We were asked by Fast Company to create a hypothetical new brand for Hillary Clinton. With only five days to deliver, and without access to Hillary, we knew we couldn’t create something with the same thinking and craft our process would ordinarily support. Instead, we chose to apply a branding sprint model. Here’s what we created in a week.
Generally, a rebrand project would start with a brief – a foundation from which to pose questions – and face-to-face working sessions with key stakeholders to understand the business and challenges. In this instance, as we couldn’t spend time with Hillary, we immersed ourselves in her world; her interviews, essays, and speeches, as well as media analysis of her team.
Through studio-wide brainstorms, research and conversations between the MB teams in San Francisco, New York and London, we formed some key insights into what is unique about Hillary:
• Hillary has more personal brand equity than any other candidate. (We’re already on a first name basis.)
• The prominence and unusual spelling of her name puts her above and beyond any other candidate’s presence online.
• While the name Clinton is synonymous with the White House, people identify “Hillary” with her evolution from First Lady to Senator, Secretary of State and Presidential Candidate.
• She has lived decades in the spotlight. This means her face is instantly recognizable, is real and relatable, and therefore has equity.
• As the favorite, she does not need to pander to her democratic base or try to win over the far right—Hillary is uniquely positioned to meet America in the middle.
• Her positions on most hot-button issues are well known, meaning she’s free to focus on the real issues affecting the vast majority.
• She’s a lifelong public servant and advocate for equality.
• She’s way past caring about how she’s portrayed by the media.
From this point we were able to set the objective of the campaign: we needed to solve why Hillary, why now, and more importantly, why should anyone care?
Writing the brand story for the campaign helped focus these insights, and provided us with the foundation to begin exploring creative routes for the identity.
After two days spent defining our point of view and crafting the brand narrative, we began trialing creative territories to underpin the identity system. Our idea was to reframe the political conversation in the middle, on common ground, to make real progress on the issues that are really affecting the majority of Americans. To this end, we created the “The H-Frame,” a visual framing system based on an abstracted “H”. It’s a recognizable and unifying device for organizing, highlighting and presenting information.
To complement a story based on facing the reality of American life, we selected naturally beautiful photographs that feel authentic but not gritty, posed but not staged. We wanted to capture people in the moment, grounded in reality.
The typeface capitalizes on Hillary’s name recognition and captures the dichotomy of her character with approachable, rounded geometric shapes juxtaposed with hard cuts and strong edges.
We updated and expanded the palette to a more sophisticated range of colors. The results feel warm, optimistic and highly differentiated.
We used our final 24hrs to create applications that expressed how this system might be brought to life.
Our ambition was to create an ownable system, which would allow Hillary to communicate with her audience of millions on the road, on our screens, on stage and in print. It’s not a logo or a badge, but a brand that reframes the conversation around the future of America, why Hillary is running for President and why we should care.
The project also acts as a proof point for a branding sprint model, highlighting the results of what can be achieved in one week.