Commission on Presidential Debates gets new brand identity

While the Commission on Presidential Debates‘ branding has always been purposefully low key, the nonpartisan organization tapped Pentagram to redesign its logo and identity for the 2020 election cycle.

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It’s important to note that while the commission produces the debates, most major networks don’t include anything other than the verbal mention of the organization on their feeds, instead coming up with their own unique logos and graphic elements that are used during the debates as well as in promos.

In addition, each host location has its own distinct logo designs for the actual event.

One of the reasons behind CPD wanting more prominent branding is the increase of streaming as a way to watch debates, where more of the commission’s graphical elements tend to be displayed on traditional networks, according to Pentagram’s Instagram post about the new look.

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[SOUND ON!] The Commission on Presidential Debates is a non-profit, non-partisan organization that has sponsored and produced all general election presidential and vice presidential debates since 1987, the year it was established. @mbierut and team have designed a new identity for the organization as it prepares for the 2020 debates. . This year’s debates will include three presidential debates and one vice presidential debate. Each is hosted at a different university but produced by the Commission. The organization has always maintained a low profile; many people don’t even realize it exists. Its presence is usually covered up by network branding during broadcasts (except for @cspan). With the 2020 election coming up, it wanted a new identity to help increase its presence, especially as a digital platform where people can turn to for information. . The new identity shifts the emphasis from the Commission to the main event, the debates themselves. The all-type logo dispenses with quasi-governmental imagery, combining the sans Caslon Doric (designed by @commercialtype) and the appropriately named Trust Serif (designed by @mckltype). The Pentagram team also designed animations to promote the upcoming debates on social media. The sequences switch the candidates’ names and the colors associated with their political parties to reinforce the non-partisan nature of the event. . Tune in to the first debate, held at @cwru in Cleveland, tomorrow night, Tues 9/29 at 9 pm EDT. Find more information at . Project team: @mbierut @thebrittcobb @AbbyMato @winarto.psd @chriss_guerrero313 . #identitydesign #brandidentity #branding #typography #commissiononpresidentialdebates #presidentialdebates #presidentialdebates2020

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Pentagram combined the bold, distinctive sans serif Caslon Doric from Commercial Type with a font known as Trust Serif from MCKL (though it’s referred to as “TrustHalf” in the commission’s website CSS).

Trust Serif has visual similarities to some other “chiseled” typefaces including Penumbra Half Serif, Monotype Albertus, Trajan and Friz Quadrata.

Typefaces like these are often said to be inspired by carved lettering on classical architectural facades such as government buildings, so it’s a natural pick.

Albertus is notably used by the former ABC legal drama “How to Get Away with Murder” in both its opening credits and the logotype of the fictional Middleton University featured in the show.

Friz Quadrata, meanwhile, is perhaps most widely recognized as the “Law & Order” font, another example of how typefaces like this are used to represent government and the law.

Caslon Doric, meanwhile, conveys both the idea of strength and power while also blending well with the letterforms of Trust Serif, such as a distinct “leg” on the capital “R.”

Old logo design

The new look replaces the commission’s old logo, featuring the profiles of two eagles.

The new logo will make its first official appearance Tuesday, Sept. 29, 2020, on the large panels on the left and right side of the debate set built in Cleveland, Ohio.


The debate stage is being built in an atrium inside the Cleveland Clinic and Case Western Reserve University’s Health Education Campus.