Pete for America

2020 Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg was uniquely positioned to bridge the divides tearing the country apart.

Brand Strategy, Visual Identity, Campaign Website, Digital Toolkit


For the last century, presidential campaigns have relied almost exclusively on red, white, and blue. This election presented a different opportunity. Several candidates, primarily the women in the race, leveraged their personal identity to drive their visual brand. Pete’s fresh vision for the future of America called on us to reimagine what was possible in presidential campaign branding.

The Opportunity

With a trail-blazing candidate ready to rise from virtual unknown to nationally recognized, Pete’s brand worked as a narrative storytelling vehicle. We intentionally crafted every aspect of the brand to reveal something about Pete. From his accessible intellectualism, to his roots and life in a small Midwestern rust belt city, to his military background and love of sports, Pete’s story was quintessentially American.

Our challenge was to get it done in the 11 days we had from project kickoff to presenting for Pete Buttigieg and his core campaign team.

The minute I saw that GIF of the Jefferson Boulevard Bridge I knew that some real experts were involved.
Michael Bierut
Partner, Pentagram

Photo Credit: Lydia King

A tale of bridging divides

South Bend’s Jefferson Blvd. Bridge is a local landmark that connects the city’s past and present. It is over 120 years old, but the interactive light sculpture that illuminates it at night is a symbol of the city’s reinvention. As a mayor and presidential candidate, Pete has been adept at bridging the divides between blue collar and white collar, between heartland conservatives and coastal progressives, between millennials and baby boomers, between the past and the future. In a time of great division, we wanted to highlight his strength as a unifier. The metaphor of the bridge, grounded in the arc of the Jefferson Blvd Bridge is the heart of our brand story.

Without a doubt, this is the best Presidential candidate campaign this time around ... and I would say possibly ranks among the best ever.
Armin Vit
Co-Founder & Critic, Brand New

A truly personal color story

Our color palette includes 9 colors rooted in Pete’s perspective of a heartland city. The colors are intentionally evocative of the America Pete has lived in most of his life, with color names that pay tribute to South Bend's history, local lore or landscape.

The color palette is excellent, avoiding the traditional red-white-and-blue in favor of a set of colors that manage to look both warm and fuzzy but also industrial.
Armin Vit
Co-Founder & Critic, Brand New

Making it memorable

The brand, and the way it was made accessible to the public, played an important role in cementing Pete’s story at a time when he was attracting more and more attention on the campaign trail. But Pete isn’t just a one-name guy. Early on in his bid, people had trouble pronouncing his last name. We turned his three-syllable Maltese surname into an asset and a rallying cry, using the phonetic spelling of his last name prominently—and almost completely foregoing the harder to read version of his last name in the brand.

The last-name logo easily translates into a campaign trail chant that many sports teams would kill to have.
Armin Vit
Co-Founder & Critic, Brand New

The most democratic brand in presidential campaign history

We wanted supporters of the campaign to be empowered to use and have as much fun with the brand as possible! We created a toolkit to give the public everything they need to show support for Pete. All of the campaign logos, colors, and supporter signs were downloadable in multiple formats. Supporters could customize their downloads, choosing from multiple marks and color combinations.

A radical new approach to campaign branding. This is the first time a campaign has made a design tool kit so easily available to supporters.
Elizabeth Segran, Ph.D.
Fast Company
With little nods to some states — like Pennsylvania’s bell or Texas’ horns — each custom lettering job gives remarkable ownership and pride to supporters there and it makes for a hell of a group image.
Armin Vit
Co-Founder & Critic, Brand New

Hand-crafted in the midwest

We worked with artists, mostly based in the midwest, to hand letter every state and territory to celebrate local pride and to add more texture and personality to the brand. The state signs were all available for supporters to download from the Design Tool kit and were used by the campaign on the road.

Giving supporters what they need

As the campaign evolved, new material was consistently added to the Toolkit. Dedicated assets were created for Pride Week, for dozens of coalitions as well as to celebrate the role Pete's husband, Chasten and their two dogs, Buddy and Truman played in the campaign.

  • 277K
    different people visited the Toolkit
  • 115K
    unique downloads of design assets
Buttigieg’s — well, Pete’s — logo is a strong, perfectly executed logo rooted in something meaningful and relevant to the candidate.
Armin Vit
Co-Founder & Critic, Brand New

Behind the scenes

The visual language of a quintessential, midsize, post-industrial city in the heartland.

In February of 2019, our team flew to campaign headquarters in South Bend to meet with Pete’s core team of advisors and tour the city he calls home. Photos from our trip, inspired us to draw from the industrial visual heritage of the midwest. Vintage signage, old railway logos, local landmarks, and the legacy of the Studebaker factory, once the largest in the world, all served as initial inspiration for the brand. We immediately started sketching ideas.

Launch day in South Bend

We had the opportunity to chat with Pete directly on a few occasions to learn more about him and his influences. We presented our work directly to him and his core team via video chat on March 8, 2019, eleven days after we began work on the project. Pete offered thoughtful feedback and gave us the thumbs up on the spot.

Two days later on March 10, 2019, the campaign had a watershed moment when Pete participated in a CNN Town Hall and delivered an impressive performance before his first national audience. Over the next 24 hours, the campaign raised $600,000 from over 22,200 donations, more than it had raised in the two months prior. At this point the campaign was still an exploratory committee but this momentum solidified Pete's decision to enter the Democratic primaries as an official candidate. The official announcement, and unveiling of the brand Hyperakt designed for the campaign took place on April 14, 2019, in South Bend, Indiana. This allowed us to spend 5 weeks building out the public-facing Pete For America Design Toolkit. The Hyperakt team flew out to South Bend to be there for the unveiling of the brand as Pete delivered his announcement speech to thousands of people packed in a hanger at the Studebaker complex.

Project Credits

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