It’s come to this: NBC analyzes Marco Rubio’s logo

REUTERS/Aaron Josefczyk
Republican presidential candidate and U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida speaking at a campaign stop in Cleveland, Ohio, on August 5.

Apologies in advance for getting on my high horse.

I suppose it’s a lot to ask of voters to be substantive, especially in the age we live in.

The stakes seem particularly high at the moment, but maybe they always seem that way.

Still, for political journalism to justify its existence, it has to give some priority to providing facts and substantive arguments based on those facts to readers and viewers in the faint hope that they will take it into account in exercising their franchise. And by “franchise” I mean their vote, not their decision on acquiring a fast-food location.

The ridiculous poll question about which candidate you would rather have a beer with has long stood in my mind as a leading example of dumbing it down. Very few of us are going to get to have a beer with the next president, and even if we were it would be more important to care about what kind of job he or she was doing in the Oval Office than whether he or she would be a good companion over a brewski.

But this may be a new low: NBC got Sagi Haviv, an “award-winning designer” at a “brand identity firm,” to analyze, on camera and for your edification, the logo of the Marco Rubio campaign.

Haviv thinks the typeface, spacing and coloring of the letters is “very smart and very nice” and “appropriate to how [Rubio] wants to present himself.” But Haviv pronounces that the use of a small map of the United States as the dot on the “i” in Rubio is “horrible” because “a logo has to be focused.” And then he ups his reaction (still to the map as the dot of the “i”) as “absolutely horrendous” because it implies that the name “Marco Rubio” is 10 times more important than the “tiny” United States of America “and that’s the wrong message.”

At  least Trump’s latest big idea was a policy proposal. Here’s the NBC/Haviv video. It’s only a minute and a half, although it’s preceded by a short ad for something (I forget what).

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Comments (22)

  1. Submitted by Jon Kingstad on 12/11/2015 - 09:11 am.

    Taking us seriously

    It’s not your fault that the “media” no longer take the voter’s intelligence seriously. But thank you for doing so, Eric.

    As far as Rubio’s logo is concerned, I’d say Mr. Haviv missed its most egregious fault: omitting two whole states, Hawaii and Alaska.

    • Submitted by Jim Million on 12/11/2015 - 10:38 am.

      Happy Frivolous Friday!

      Isn’t that because Donald Trump owns the umlaut rights to use them for his Ü?

      Or, maybe Marco intends to sell those two states in 2017 to pay down the debt.

      May we end all weeks with appropriate mischief and mirth.

    • Submitted by Carrie Anderson on 12/14/2015 - 02:11 pm.

      Somber Monday Moment

      Maybe it’s because Marco thinks Hawaii is in Kenya.

  2. Submitted by Jim Million on 12/11/2015 - 09:16 am.

    Foul Feathers

    Thanks for this appropriate Week End closer.

    Maybe placing the map within a heart would better meet Haviv’s standards of logo-logic imagery.

    Maybe he has professional thoughts on the NBC Peacock feathers, as well. Is the Blue too bold; or, is it that Red that requires reduction? Maybe the Green should be in the middle. And…just what does that White part really represent??

    Good grief…..

  3. Submitted by John N. Finn on 12/11/2015 - 09:31 am.

    Agree, it’s lame…

    ….from a design branding standpoint and from Eric’s also, of course. What about Alaska and Hawaii? Has he written them off?

  4. Submitted by Dennis Tester on 12/11/2015 - 09:36 am.

    au contrare

    The fact that Rubio uses all lower case letters in his name suggests just the opposite of Haviv’s “analysis” that it implies that the name “Marco Rubio” is 10 times more important than the “tiny” United States of America “ Just the opposite. He obviously sees himself as a humble servant of the people, with the symbol of the nation positioned way above his name.

    Compare and contrast with Hillary Clinton’s capital “H” which arrogantly implies that we don’t even have to see her last name because everyone in the universe knows who she is, kind of like Beyonce or Whoopie and we’re all here to sing her praises. Until the day she’s indicted, at least.

    See? Anyone can be an expert.

  5. Submitted by Paul Brandon on 12/11/2015 - 09:45 am.

    Or maybe

    it says something about the average American voter.
    Logo design might just be a more important election factor than any significant proposal, which most voters won’t even read, much less analyze.

  6. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 12/11/2015 - 10:20 am.


    I am amazed at how fascinated many, many people are with fonts and typefaces. People get just furious over this stuff. And as someone who has participated in campaigns myself, I know that a good deal of attention is paid to the logos. Questions like “how does this present the candidate?” are asked and how a candidate chooses to present himself is not totally without news interest. And one of things about that one day sort of a story is that it’s a real story about something that exists in nature, independent of news coverage. So much of campaign coverage is of polls, something that would not exist if those covering would not pay for or at least use. I don’t know how to express this clearly. Maybe an analogy would help. It’s like going to the North Pole with a thermometer and then giving news coverage to the make of the thermometer.

  7. Submitted by RB Holbrook on 12/11/2015 - 10:28 am.

    Who is to Blame?

    I’m not going to fault Mr. Haviv. He is a designer, he was asked for his opinion, and he gave it. It’s what anyone does when asked about something within their area of expertise.

    I fault NBC News for asking the question in the first place. If you can’t ask something intelligent, don’t ask anything at all.

  8. Submitted by Harris Goldstein on 12/11/2015 - 11:02 am.

    The “have a beer with” question is not so rediculous


    If the poll is intended to predict behavior, the question isn’t ridiculous if people base their decision on that impression.

    • Submitted by Frank Phelan on 12/11/2015 - 12:11 pm.

      Yeah, But

      The beer question isn’t nearly as important as Bob Dole’s question:

      “Who would you rather have babysit your kids?”

      But mine is the most important of all:

      Who would you rather have chose the color of your new car?

      Or maybe:

      Who would you rather go to a state fair grand stand show with?

  9. Submitted by Ray Schoch on 12/11/2015 - 11:10 am.

    On this one

    …I have to go with RB Holbrook. Graphic design is very often important – just ask the folks in the executive suite(s) at Target – so I don’t fault either Mr. Haviv or, perhaps more importantly, the Rubio campaign for paying some attention to it (or, to placate Mr. Tester, the Clinton campaign for also paying some attention to it). Still, if the function of journalism in this context is to present potential voters with information that might be useful to them in choosing a candidate, NBC pretty much flunks this quiz.

  10. Submitted by chuck holtman on 12/11/2015 - 11:26 am.

    Mr Rubio’s logo has the country on a stick.

    Which makes me think of two things.

    First, if he’s elected, you can put a fork in us, we’re done. Second, Vlad III, Prince of Wallachia, a/k/a Vlad the Impaler, who (so it is said) displayed his enemies’ decapitated heads on pikes to discourage others to oppose him. Maybe Mr Rubio subconsciously is inclined to such a model of governance.

    Perhaps the logo produced different associations in the focus groups convened by the Rubio campaign.

  11. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 12/11/2015 - 11:39 am.


    In the world of politics, what I like to say is that there are no stupid questions but there are quite a few stupid answers out there.

  12. Submitted by Jim Million on 12/11/2015 - 11:50 am.


    See what happens when you try to bring art to your followers?
    Please keep injecting the Black Hole with some happy colors.

  13. Submitted by Hal Davis on 12/11/2015 - 11:59 am.

    Substantive, you say?

    “I suppose it’s a lot to ask of voters to be substantive, especially in the age we live in. … But this may be a new low.”

    You may recall this exchange between journalist Ana Maria Cox and Bernie Sanders:

    C: Do you think it’s fair that Hillary’s hair gets a lot more scrutiny than yours does?

    S: Hillary’s hair gets more scrutiny than my hair?

    C: Yeah.

    B: Is that what you’re asking?

    C: Yeah.

    S: O.K., Ana, I don’t mean to be rude here. I am running for president of the United States on serious issues, O.K.? Do you have serious questions?

    C: I can defend that as a serious question. There is a gendered reason —

    S: When the media worries about what Hillary’s hair looks like or what my hair looks like, that’s a real problem. We have millions of people who are struggling to keep their heads above water, who want to know what candidates can do to improve their lives, and the media will very often spend more time worrying about hair than the fact that we’re the only major country on earth that doesn’t guarantee health care to all people.

    C: It’s also true that the media pays more attention to what female candidates look like than it does to what male candidates look like.

    S: That may be. That may be, and it’s absolutely wrong.

    • Submitted by Ray Schoch on 12/11/2015 - 02:56 pm.


      …for that, Hal. I am absolutely with Senator Sanders on this one. Overall, I’m inclined to award more weight (i.e., tiny fractions of a gram vs. even tinier fractions of a gram) to the “Logo Controversy” than to the “Hair Controversy,” but the public is not well-served by either one.

      • Submitted by Hiram Foster on 12/12/2015 - 06:48 am.

        The end

        As the dialogue progresses, you see that Bernie at least some degree concedes the reporter’s point and is responsive to the question and the issue it raises. And the the exchange tells us or at least reinforces something that’s valuable knowing about Bernie which is that he is a self absorbed crank, not to big on the empathy side. Now I don’t view those things as necessarily disqualifying qualities, but they are qualities that we should concern with especially when he is dealing with issues more substantive than his and Hillary’s respective hair stylings.

        • Submitted by Rachel Kahler on 12/17/2015 - 04:15 pm.

          I disagree

          If Ms. Cox wanted to ask the question of whether it’s fair that the media doesn’t focus on issues brought up by women candidates as compared to men candidates, then that’s what she should have asked. But she didn’t. They asked “Do you think it’s fair that Hillary’s hair gets a lot more scrutiny than yours does?” What the…? You know what? TRUMP’S HAIR GETS MORE SCRUTINY THAN SANDER’S HAIR. Hell, Trump’s hair probably has its own television show (which, I’m sure, is very successful because everything that Trump has is very successful, just ask him). If you want to get to a relevant point, ask the right question. She asked about hair, not about whether it’s fair that women don’t get treated as serious candidates. Bernie answered appropriately, and wasn’t afraid to admit that he agreed when the RIGHT question was asked. I’d have been peeved if I was asked that question, too. In fact, I might have been a lot more “rude.” I might have countered with “Are you serious?! You have the opportunity to ask a question of a person who could arguably become the President of the United States of America and you’re going to ask about the popularity of my hair? Please ask me something serious.”

      • Submitted by Jim Million on 12/12/2015 - 12:59 pm.

        Better the “Weightless Award”

        The Logo stuff is the leading candidate right now. It’s fluff! Nonsense! A welcome mirth break amid mayhem, if you will.

        I’m still smiling at all those very serious responses to a purposely silly Friday article. Lighten up, guys.

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