McCain’s Optimum Look

Can a type­face tru­ly rep­re­sent a pres­i­den­tial can­di­date? Yes­ter­day on the Times’ Cam­paign Stops blog, Steven Heller invit­ed sev­er­al design­ers and crit­ics to com­ment on John McCain’s use of Opti­ma for cam­paign col­lat­er­al.

Is it dat­ed? Clas­sic? Does it con­vey strength? Or, quirk­i­ness? The replies run the gamut; many of them fun­ny or tongue-in-cheek. Michael Beirut notes the font’s resem­blance to the one used to carve the names on the Viet­nam Vet­er­ans Memo­r­i­al, and Matthew Carter mus­es about how the type­face will hold up with the addi­tion of a run­ning mate this sum­mer. But, my favorite judge­ment comes at the end, from Rudy Van­der­Lans:

What does Opti­ma say about Sen­a­tor McCain? Noth­ing. It prob­a­bly says more about the design­er than any­thing else. Who, except design­ers, would judge a can­di­date by the type­face?

Oh, and ear­li­er this month, Heller did a sim­i­lar dis­cus­sion with brand­ing expert Bri­an Collins, on Obama’s Gotham-heavy design scheme.

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