Presidential Campaign Typeface

Optima vs. Gotham

The Obama camp chose Gotham. Conceptually this chose could be a bad move (i.e. think of a future dystopian America or simply think of the south side of Chicago). Gotham is a fairly new typeface designed my Tobias Frere-Jones who was inspired by mid 20th-century architectural signage. This could swing two ways; 1) Obama could be considered as too trendy, new, inexperienced and 2) Obama could be considered as recycled material from the 1950s rather than a truly progressive. Gotham is classified as a geometric due to its lineal monoline circles and rectangles providing a modern feel. This could be a challenge for Obama if he’s trying to secure the parties base which started voting in the 1950’s.

The McCain camp chose Optima. Conceptually this chose could be a good move (i.e. think optimistic or Optimus Prime). Interestingly, Optima was designed by Hermann Zapf as one of the first digital typefaces for desktop publishing in the 1950s. This could date McCain as a dinosaur or cast him as a futurist. Further, Optima is classified as a humanist typeface due to its calligraphic elements. This could be a bad thing for McCain if he’s trying to secure the Christian vote.

(Other font thoughts from Steven Heller here).