There’s an old—and probably apocryphal—chestnut about Sigmund Freud and his habitual cigar smoking. When quizzed on its, well, Freudian implications, the famous psychoanalyst is reported to have said, “Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.”
And so, sometimes, things are just what they seem.
Other times—especially when they’ve been run through countless focus groups, brains trusts, and spin doctors—things take on a little more resonance.
Case in point: the logo for Hillary Clinton’s newly announced 2016 presidential campaign.
On the surface, the logo’s simple and bold. It’s a red, white, and blue representation of the letter H, with the crossbar transforming into an arrow. The colours suggest American ideals, and the arrow implies progress.
Upon further examination, however, one can’t help but notice that the arrow’s pointing to the right.
With the Democratic primary field pretty much cleared for Clinton (except for possible candidacies by Martin O’Malley, Jim Webb, and Elizabeth Warren), there’s a good chance her team is already preparing against a Republican opponent in the general election.
After spending 25 years as a lighting rod for right-wing ire, could Clinton’s logo be a deliberate case of dog-whistle politics, a subliminal message to conservatives that Clinton will tack to the right?
Considering the attention to minute detail that has gone into the roll-out of Clinton’s 2016 campaign, it’s a forgone conclusion that every aspect of the logo was examined and re-examined thoroughly.
As well as the fact that Clinton’s logo is similar to one used by arch-conservative Barry “Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice” Goldwater during his 1964 campaign for president. Clinton herself had been a “Goldwater Girl” on that campaign, back in her days as a Young Republican—so it strains credulity that neither she nor no one on her campaign caught the similarity between the two logos.
That being said, political graphic design is demanding business. Some themes are universal, elements frequently get re-used, and a good design needs to be recognizable on a one-inch button.
Does the right-facing arrow represent a simple coincidence, or was there a direct intent behind it? We’ll find out, it seems, sometime in the next 18 months.