Lawn Sign Politics

Should it be Joe & Amy 2020 or Joe and Gretchen? Biden-Warren is uncomfortable on the tongue, too hard to say and both names end with the same sound. Without doubt, the significant decision the democrats will have to make this year is how things look and sound on a lawn sign.

Lawn signs are natural for this social distancing age; they send a message without any assistance and what they say has impact on how we feel. The graphics are key; think of the Obama signage with the swash of Americana wrapped around the “O”. Brilliant. Typography – the font, the size the color and the relationship between words – becomes a brand, and in America, branding is all the rage. It’s not just how two names sound together, it’s also how they look. As an aside, my favorite lawn sign this year says “Any Functioning Adult – 2020”.

Speaking of 2020, it’s important to note what Biden needs to consider in choosing a running mate. A gender-sensitive kinda guy, he’s already announced he will select a woman, so that narrows his choices by 50%. Personally, I’d rather have had Elizabeth Warren be the one considering her running mate, but alas, things have turned out otherwise. The problem is a Biden-Warren ticket is awkward phonetically and graphically. The choice of Joe & Liz is actually pretty good, but I’m not sure if Warren uses the name Liz. Joe & Elizabeth doesn’t work at all and makes me think of a royal couple.

How about Joe & Stacy? Thank god it’s not spelled “Staci”. Joe and Stacy is easy in the mouth, but might sound too much like Ken and Barbie. It’s worth noting that Joe and Stacy look like the polar opposites of Ken and Barbie. Biden-Abrams sounds like one name, a foreign name. Bidenabrams won’t work.

Gretchen Whitmer is the governor of Michigan, and Michigan is swing state; having a running mate from Michigan might help Joe win in 2020, but Gretchen is a loser, graphically, and calls to mind Grimm’s Fairy Tales. Biden-Whitmer is okay, but sounds a bit like a power drill manufacturer. Overall, despite the swing-state benefits, lawn sign politics rules out this choice of running mate.

Joe & Kamala is easy to read but is it KAMala or KamALA? Branding cannot confuse but must simplify. Biden-Harris is better, but brings to mind the name of an accounting firm. Warm and friendly, it’s not, and Biden’s brand is all about warmth. I mean, look at those teeth!

When you get down to it, Joe & Amy is best, from a branding perspective. Both names are just three letters long, stack well graphically and can appear in a large and bold font. It’s ironic, because Biden-Klobuchar branding is an absolute disaster, sounding like the name of a blended family that couldn’t agree which name to use.

There are plenty of other good names out there for Biden to choose from, and one has to assume his staff is conducting focus-groups in key states right now to see what the public thinks of various name combinations. The political leanings of a running mate are irrelevant; it appears that gender will predominate, followed by other criteria. I suggest now that gender has been decided, it’s the lawn sign that should drive the final decision.

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