The Good, The Bad & The Ugly: Torontos Mayoral Candidate Brands

Disclaimer: This post is not meant to be political or to endorse one candidate over another. It is purely a review of the candidates brand and how it relates to their promises for the city.

Toronto residents are heading to the polls today to vote for who will lead the city for the next 4 years. There are many issues on the minds of voters, likely the least of which will be how the candidates campaign was branded. Just for the fun of it though Graphic Design Principal, Jack Henry thought it would be interesting to take a critical look at how the campaigns branded themselves. Jack looked at 4 of the top poling candidates, John Tory, Jennifer Keesmaat, Faith Goldy & Sarah Climenhaga.


John Tory

Tory Logo.jpeg

John Tory’s campaign didn’t change much from his campaign in 2014, choosing to stick with the same colour scheme and typeface and still highlighting the “TO” in the beginning of his name. The only change was adding “re-” in front of “elect” at the top. The campaign took the “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” approach to the design.

The best piece that was designed by the campaign is his lawn signs. They not only reflect the campaign brand but also give you the information that a political candidates sign should give you quickly and legibly and that is the last name of the candidate (as ballots are sorted alphabetically by last name) and the position he is running for. Although Tory’s campaign brand is pretty well rolled out accross most touch points if I had to chose the worst piece on the campaign it would be his website. Although the site follows the brand decently, the reason I chose this as the worst piece is because the site does not scale well to larger or smaller windows which makes content get cut off and images too small. I feel that these are issues that could have been fixed at some point in the six month campaign.

As for messaging for the site copy and social media, Tory’s campaign is focusing strongly on what Tory has done for the city in the last 4 years rather than his plans moving forward. They use terms like “Under Mayor Tory’s administration…” and “Since being elected in 2014…”


Jennifer Keesmaat

Keesmaat Logo.jpeg

Keesmat is the only candidate who brings a lot of colour into her campaigns brand where the other candidates have kept their colour pallet more muted and around the city’s blue. This could represent the multi-national nature of the city well and is a refreshing change when viewing the various candidate sites. It also makes the candidate seem more apealing and exciting when lots of bright colours are used. I also like how versitile the brad mark is. It can be used in many situations like on the image above, with or without the “For Mayor” bar and with or without the background lines. This gave the campaign a lot of flexibility when it came to creating the look of the campaign.

When it comes to messaging, Keesmaat’s campaign really focused on presenting a candidate with a genuine love for the city and as a real contender for Mayor.


Faith Goldy

Faith Goldy’s campaign design collateral is the worst of the top four candidates. The biggest issue right off the bat is that her last name is nowhere on her site. As a candidate the biggest thing that you should promote is your last name as that will be how voters find you on the ballot. I realize that the designers could have been juxtaposing the candidates first name with having religious faith but that message defiantly does not come through clearly.

The logo says nothing about her campaign other than that its in Toronto (by utilizing the shape of the CN Tower). Her site is completely flat, only utilizing one colour. There is also another video presented on her site that utilizes a different brand all together. Over all Goldy’s campaign design seems a bit all over the place and does not project a clear image.

Whether you agree with Goldy’s messaging or not, it is the same across all her campaigns touch points which makes it the only redeeming piece of Goldy’s brand.


Sarah Climenhaga

Sarah Climenhaga’s campaign brand creates a clear image of what she hopes to bring to city Hall. Her campaign slogan “Leadership that Listens” is a strong statement and something that I think resinates with some residents of this city. Having this statement right up front with her logo really creates a strong statement. Although Sarah also defaults to a blue approximating the city’s brand, she also uses a bright red as an accent colour, creating a more interesting composition. Another thing of note, Sarah’s campaign also uses a .to ending to her website which although it is the Internet country code top-level domain for Tongo, I think it really adds to her brand.

I also want to address the use of her name as her logo is like that of of Goldy’s in the sense that she only utilizes her first name. I believe that in this situation this actually works. This is because she presents her last name many times on her site including right on her homepage as shown above.

Sarah’s messaging is consistent and presents her as a regular resident who wants to make the city better.