Republican Design Beyond the Red, White and Blue

After taking computer art classes in high school, Katie Moore landed her first political design job in college producing marketing materials to promote on-campus debates. After switching to Liberty University to complete her graphic design degree online, she stumbled across a posting for a contract gig with Virginia-based GOP mail shop WRS. 

She started as a late-cycle hire in October 2020 and has stayed on, now serving as the shop’s creative director where her responsibilities have expanded to include creating complete branding for clients. 

C&E: Are your clients still interested in emulating President Trump’s design?  

Moore: Trump’s brand is a lot of blue and then it’s the sans serif font. A lot of people are still trying to emulate it. I just created a logo, and [the client] basically wanted the same thing that Trump had: blue, sans serif font, very bold. I’ve been trying to separate a lot of our clients out from that because if you are driving down the side of the road, I don’t want it to be something everyone is seeing. I want it to stand out on its own two feet. 

I’ve been trying to really stand out with a lot of red, but also I’ve noticed that with design trends in general, we’re moving towards a muted color trend, so with interior designers now, it’s muted green. In a lot of graphic design I see on social media, it’s muted pinks. I’ve taken that as a challenge, and I’ve done a lot of muted red, white and blue color schemes. I’ve noticed that starting to be a little bit of a trend in politics. I’ve also been using a lot of serif fonts lately, going back to more traditional styles. I’ve been looking back at a lot of older campaigns for inspiration. 

C&E: Tell us about the different categories you’re working in.

Moore: We do a lot of full brands. We create the logo concepts, then we integrate that into their social media. We create social media posts, headers and all the design stuff that will go out in the newsletters and emails blasts, and a lot of times that transitions into mailers and website design. Then we’ll sign some clients and all they want is social media, or mailers — so then it’s just trying to match the branding they already had. But I think politics has changed and we’re signing a lot of people who haven’t ventured into politics before, so it’s creating a full brand rather than just continuing one for someone who already had their hand in the game. 

C&E: What’s your branding process look like? We know time with political clients can be tight. 

Moore: We [usually] have very limited contact with the client themselves, but we just started implementing a branding call, and I found this really helpful. We ask them: Who is it that you find inspiring? And a lot of times they will give us a campaign that I didn’t know existed. I had a client in Ohio and he was listing people in Portland and California and he really liked their campaigns. Sometimes it’s the founding fathers, and there’s not a lot of design inspiration campaign-wise from them. But I’ll see who they are inspired by and a lot of times I’m able to draw from who they like and who they see as inspiration. Really, I just try to match the person I’m designing for into a logo. You really want their brand to stand out and represent them. I don’t want to follow the trends just because they’re popular. 

C&E: What have you seen change in political design over the past two years? 

Moore: When I first started off it was very pandemic heavy. There were a lot of positive messages, it was very light hearted. As the year closed out and we moved into 2021, it [changed]. A lot of what I’m designing right now is harder hitting design — pointing out hypocrisy and that kind of thing in the media. Some of the clients really don’t want to do anything negative so a lot of times it’s still a bold design, but we put a positive spin on it. We focus on the family or community.  

C&E: What do you think will be the defining trend for 2022?

Moore: I think some more muted colors might be the defining trend. I wouldn’t be surprised if we see some [older design trends] recycle back through. I think it’s kind of hard to tell what’s going to be a design trend in politics. It really depends on who is the frontrunner, the foremost in the media. That’ll affect the overall design trend. 

C&E: What do you look to for inspiration?

Moore: There’s a lot of bad political design out there so I don’t tend to look at a lot of campaigns for design inspiration. A lot of times, honestly, if I’m feeling uninspired or I can’t get going, I’ll just go walk the aisles of a grocery store or Target. I look at branding on boxes. There’s a lot of new creative design out there. It’s like, Oh, I really like the way they did the type on that. You can find inspiration in almost anything. I follow a lot of designers and artists on Instagram. I do go through Pinterest sometimes, too. 

Republican Design Beyond the Red, White and Blue

Nigarai M Grusio

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