How Campaign Logos Shape Voters' Opinions About Candidates

May 7, 2024

New research conducted by the Center for Campaign Innovation uncovers the impact of campaign logo design on voters' perceptions of candidates. The study sought to determine whether logo design can influence a candidate’s favorability with voters and the attributes associated voters associate with them, as well as to compare the design preferences of professional designers with those of the general voting public.

Key Findings:

  1. Campaign logos can have a significant impact on voter favorability, with well-designed logos increasing favorability by up to 5% and poorly designed logos decreasing favorability by the same amount.
  2. Logos can influence voters' perceptions of candidate attributes, such as being "fresh," "exciting," "moderate," or "experienced."
  3. Professional designers' logo preferences do not strongly correlate with those of voters, emphasizing the importance of considering the target audience in logo design.
  4. Red, white, and blue color schemes and patriotic design elements like flags and stars were preferred by voters, while logos using colors outside this palette were least preferred.


  1. Incorporating traditional visual elements, such as red, white, and blue colors and patriotic symbols meets voters’ expectations for what a candidate logo should be.
  2. Campaigns should consider the broader emotional impact and messaging conveyed by their logos, aligning design elements with desired brand identities and values.
  3. Campaigns should test logo designs with voters before making final decisions, using techniques like MaxDiff studies and anonymizing logos to gather objective feedback.

This study highlights the importance of strategic logo design in political campaigns, demonstrating the measurable impact of logos on voter favorability and attribute associations. By considering the preferences of both professional designers and voters, and carefully aligning design elements with desired brand identities, campaigns can create logos that effectively communicate their message and resonate with the electorate. The findings and recommendations of this study provide guidance for crafting impactful campaign logos in an evolving political landscape.


Throughout the history of U.S. political campaigns, candidates have used logos as a key element to brand themselves and make their campaigns recognizable to voters. A well-designed logo acts as a visual representation of the candidate and the campaign's core message.

In the United States, candidate selection is of paramount importance, and a candidate's logo plays a crucial role in branding and differentiating them from their opponents. Political observers and pundits often rate and critique the logos of national political candidates, discussing their effectiveness in capturing voters' attention and conveying the desired message.

In recent years, with the expansion of online campaigning, the presence and importance of a candidate's logo has grown significantly. Campaign logos now appear prominently on candidate websites, social media profiles, and digital advertisements, reaching a wider audience than ever before. However, logos also continue to serve essential offline functions, adorning merchandise like t-shirts and hats, appearing on bumper stickers, and featuring on outdoor signs and billboards.

Given the increasing ubiquity and potential impact of campaign logos, we sought to investigate what effect, if any, a campaign logo has on voters' perceptions of candidates. Do certain design elements or styles influence how voters perceive a candidate's traits, such as trustworthiness, competence, or likeability? Furthermore, we wanted to explore whether the logos that appeal to professional designers correlate with what voters perceive to be "good" logos. In other words, do the design preferences of experts align with the tastes and perceptions of the general voting public?

The following report details the methodology of the study, present the key findings, and discuss the implications for campaign logo design and candidate branding strategies.


To investigate the impact of campaign logos on voters' perceptions, we conducted a two-part survey using a deliberately curated selection of logos from the Center for American Politics and Design database. First, we chose 20 logos from U.S. House candidates who ran in the 2022 elections. To ensure a diverse and representative sample, we selected an equal number of logos from Republican and Democratic candidates, men and women, and winners and losers. Additionally, we considered the partisan leaning of the candidates' districts, including a mix of partisan-leaning and toss-up districts. The chosen logos also represented a range of design variations in terms of color, font, and shape.

To minimize the influence of existing candidate recognition or party affiliation, we replaced the candidate names on the logos with fictitious names and removed any identifying marks, such as state outlines or party symbols.

In the first part of the survey, we compiled the 20 modified logos and asked a group of professional designers to rate each logo's effectiveness and uniqueness. The designers were also asked to rank the logos from most to least favorite. Based on the designers' ratings, we narrowed down the selection to a set of 10 logos, consisting of four logos rated as above average, two as average, and four below average.

For the second part of the survey, we presented the set of 10 logos to a sample of 1,046 registered voters. The respondents were asked to indicate whether they had a favorable or unfavorable opinion of the candidate based solely on the logo. They were also asked to assign attributes from a provided list to the candidate based on their perception of the logo and to guess the candidate's party affiliation.

After providing feedback on individual logos, the voters participated in a series of best-worst choice tasks. In each task, they were shown a group of four logos and asked to select the logo they most preferred and the logo they least preferred. This process was repeated across five different sets, with each logo appearing twice throughout the exercise.

By employing this two-part survey methodology, we aimed to assess the impact of campaign logos on voters' perceptions of candidates, as well as to compare the design preferences of professional designers with those of the general voting public.

How Voters Were Affected By Logos

The survey results demonstrate that campaign logos are not merely superficial design elements but have the potential to significantly impact a voter's perception of a candidate. When asked to rate a candidate's favorability based solely on the logo design, voters' responses varied considerably across the ten options tested.

The candidate logo viewed most favorably by voters had an almost 5% lift in favorability compared to the average, while the least favorable logo saw an almost 5% decrease in favorability. This finding suggests that selecting a logo is a crucial choice for a campaign, as it can alter voters' favorability by as much as 10 percentage points.

When assigning attributes to a candidate based on the logo, voters associated some logos with positive attributes like "fresh" and "exciting," while other logos triggered negative attributes such as "boring" and "extreme." Depending on the political context, a candidate described as "moderate" or "experienced" could be viewed as either a liability or an asset.

Therefore, the choice of a campaign logo has the potential to affect a voter's perception of a candidate's intangible qualities, which can be particularly influential in shaping opinions.

When asked to guess the political party affiliation of a candidate based on their logo, voters were correct half of the time, while the other half, they were unsure. On average, voters correctly identified three Republican logos and two Democratic logos.

This finding further suggests that the selection of a campaign logo can impact voters' perceived partisanship of a candidate, which is especially critical in down-ballot races where voters often make decisions based on party affiliation.

In the best-worst choice tasks, where voters were asked to identify their most and least preferred logos out of five sets of four, the three logos that earned the highest number of "most preferred" selections were those of Megan Clark, Melissa Murphy, and Laura Banks Jones.

Conversely, the three logos that received the most "least preferred" selections were those of David Thomson, Angela King, and Ben King.

However, when calculating the net preference (the number of most preferred rankings minus the number of least preferred rankings), it was found that the net effect of a logo correlates closely with the voters' favorability ratings.

For example, the Laura Banks Jones logo ranked 9th in average favorability and also 9th in net preference. This result indicates that a logo can elicit strong opinions, both positive and negative, and must be carefully considered during the design process.

We also asked survey respondents whether they identified as Republican, Democrat, or Independent, giving us additional insights into how these voters responded to logos. Both Republicans and Democrats were more likely to rate the logos of candidates from their own party higher than those of the opposite party. This would indicate that voters are able to determine partisan affiliation from the logos of candidates.

The Rebecca Martin logo was the 2nd most favorably rated by Republican respondents, but 9th among Democrats. Similarly, the Laura Banks Jones logo was first among Democrats but last among Republicans.

Some logos, like those for Megan Clark, Rebecca Martin, and Melissa Murphy had crossover appeal between Republicans and Independents.

Professional Designers Have Differing Views On Logos

Both voter and designer ratings were generally positive, with all values above 3.1. The central tendency (mean and median) of the ratings by both groups indicates a favorable reception of the logos overall. However, they differed in which logos they found most favorable.

When professional graphic designers with experience in logo creation and branding were asked to assess the favorability of the candidates based on their logos, the range of ratings (difference between maximum and minimum) and the standard deviation were higher among designer ratings compared to voter ratings. Designers' ratings varied more, and they gave both the highest and lowest ratings compared to voters.

This suggests that designers believe they can perceive more about a brand from the logo than voters do.

When comparing designers’ ratings of a campaign logo’s effectiveness to the voters’ net preferences, we see a weak negative correlation between the two variables that is not statistically significant. In other words, there isn't a strong relationship between voters’ preferences and designers ratings.

In terms of the designers' ranking of logo effectiveness, the data suggests that professional designers have a good but not infallible sense of what makes a logo effective to the general public. Logos that are both technically sound and visually appealing tend to perform well with voters, as seen with the Melissa Murphy logo.

Designer Effectiveness – 1st
Net Voter Preference – 2nd

However, there are instances where voter preferences diverge from professional ratings, indicating that factors like emotional impact and simplicity might be more influential for the general populace than for design experts.

Designer Effectiveness – 2nd
Net Voter Preference – 9th

This finding highlights the importance of considering the target audience when designing a campaign logo. While professional designers' expertise is valuable in creating visually appealing and technically proficient logos, it is crucial to also take into account the preferences and perceptions of the general voting public. A successful campaign logo should strike a balance between design best practices and the emotional resonance it creates with voters.

What Campaign Logo Designers Should Do

The findings of this study suggest that what designers prioritize in a logo may not always align with what is most important to voters. However, this does not negate the need for professional design support in creating a campaign logo. Instead, it highlights the importance of collaboration between designers and campaign strategists to ensure that the final logo resonates with the target audience.

One key recommendation for campaigns is to consider testing their logos with voters before making a final decision. Conducting a variation of the MaxDiff study, as employed in this research, could be an effective way to determine whether voters prefer one logo design over another. By presenting voters with a series of choices and asking them to select their most and least preferred options, campaigns can gain valuable insights into which design elements and styles are most appealing to their target audience.

When testing logos, campaigns can use the technique of anonymizing the designs with alternate, but similar names to help conceal their plans and avoid leaks. This approach allows for more objective feedback from voters, as they will be assessing the logos based solely on their visual qualities rather than any preexisting associations with the candidate or campaign.

The study results also provide some specific guidance for logo design preferences among voters. Red, white, and blue color schemes and patriotic design elements like flags and stars were clearly preferred by voters. The three logos that voters preferred the most all featured these colors and motifs, suggesting that incorporating these elements can help create a sense of national pride and connection with the electorate.

Conversely, logos that used colors outside of the red, white, and blue palette were least preferred by voters. This finding indicates that campaigns should be cautious about deviating too far from traditional color schemes, as doing so may risk alienating or confusing potential supporters.

In addition to these specific design recommendations, campaigns should also consider the broader emotional impact and messaging that their logos convey. The study found that logos can influence voters' perceptions of a candidate's attributes, such as being "fresh," "exciting," "moderate," or "experienced." By carefully selecting design elements and styles that align with the desired brand identity and values of the campaign, logos can help reinforce key themes and messages.

Questions For Future Investigation

Our ability to test and measure the effect of logo design on how a voter perceives a candidate is limited because the overall brand of a candidate encompasses much more than just a logo. However, the fact that logo design can have a measurable impact on voters' opinions of a candidate suggests this is a question worthy of future investigation.

Future studies should explore multi-variate testing of logos with different colors, typefaces, iconography, and shapes to determine which elements have the most significant impact on voters' perceptions. By isolating and testing specific design components, we can gain a more nuanced understanding of how each element contributes to the overall effectiveness of a campaign logo.

Additionally, there is potential for further research on how incorporating shapes of states or other local iconography impacts voter opinions. Logos that feature recognizable geographic outlines or symbols may evoke a sense of regional pride or connection, which could influence voters' perceptions of a candidate's ties to the community or understanding of local issues.

Another avenue for future research is to examine how campaign logos perform across various use cases and media. This study did not take into consideration all of the diverse contexts in which a campaign logo might appear, such as yard signs, bumper stickers, or digital platforms like social media and campaign websites. Understanding how logos are perceived and how effectively they communicate a candidate's brand across these different applications could provide valuable insights for campaign strategists and designers.

Furthermore, future studies could investigate how the effectiveness of campaign logos varies across different demographic groups, such as age, gender, or political affiliation. Understanding how diverse segments of the electorate respond to different logo designs could help campaigns tailor their visual branding to better resonate with specific target audiences.

As political campaigns continue to evolve and adapt to changing media landscapes and voter preferences, the role of logo design in shaping candidate perceptions will remain an important area of study. By building upon the findings of this research and exploring new dimensions of logo effectiveness, future studies can contribute to a more comprehensive understanding of how visual branding influences voter attitudes and behaviors in the realm of political campaigns.


This study provides valuable insights into the impact of campaign logo design on voters' perceptions of candidates. We demonstrate that logos are not merely superficial design elements but can have a measurable effect on how voters view and evaluate candidates.

The study found that well-designed logos can improve a candidate's favorability by as much as 5%, while poorly designed logos can decrease favorability by the same amount. This 10-point swing in favorability highlights the importance of carefully considering logo design as a key component of a campaign's overall branding strategy.

Furthermore, the research showed that logos can influence voters' perceptions of a candidate's attributes, such as being "fresh," "exciting," "moderate," or "experienced." This finding suggests that campaigns can use logo design to reinforce desired brand identities and communicate key messages to the electorate.

However, the study also revealed that the design preferences of professional designers do not always align with those of voters. While designers' expertise is valuable in creating technically proficient and visually appealing logos, it is equally important to consider the preferences and perceptions of the target audience. The low correlation between designer and voter ratings underscores the need for campaigns to test their logos with voters before making final decisions.

As political campaigns continue to evolve and adapt to changing landscapes, the role of logo design in shaping candidate perceptions will remain an important area of study. By building upon the findings of this research and considering the recommendations provided, campaigns can create logos that effectively communicate their brand, resonate with voters, and ultimately contribute to electoral success.


This survey was conducted April 15-17, 2024 among N=1,046 Registered Voters. The margin of error for the survey is ± 3.09%. The margin of error among sub-groups is greater.

The survey was conducted online and participants were recruited from SurveyMonkey’s audience network. The designer rankings were collected from a sample of N=50 professional graphic designers via online survey.