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Did George Kostanza design Charlie Justice’s new campaign logo?

in Peter/The Bay and the 'Burg by

Charlie Justice doesn’t pretend to offer the style or pizazz some of his flashier legislative colleagues are so eager to dish. He’s an aw-shucks, down-to-Earth, wonkish Boy Scout who will never be confused with some of his slicker predecessors (he currently occupies the seat once held by Charlie Crist).

But Justice’s buttoned-down demeanor and soft-spoken approach have served him well in public life. He’s made a quick ascension from legislative aide to state representative and state senator. Now, he’s David to Bill Young’s Goliath, challenging the incumbent Republican for a seat in the U.S. Congress.

Unfortunately, Justice seems to still be playing in the state legislative sandbox instead of the congressional playground. Specifically, his new logo is one of the worst I have ever seen (I’ve designed some very good logos — Larry Crow’s won a 1st Place National Pollie — and I’ve laid a few eggs — Matt King’s, with its chessboard, comes to mind.)

First of all, Justice’s handlers decided to use all capital letters and serif fonts in their design. That kind of design is horribly out-of-date.

Bold, block capital letters are out. Their replacements are mostly or entirely lower case, softening the stern voice of corporate authority to something more like an informal chat.

“Logos have become less official-looking and more conversational,” said Patti Williams, a professor of marketing at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School. “They’re not yelling. They’re inviting. They’re more neighborly.”

Blogs and e-mail, Ms. Williams said, may be encouraging a quieter, calmer, lower-case branding vernacular. Who isn’t tired of screeds that assault the reader via THE CAPS LOCK KEY?

Letterforms in many new emblems are lighter and rounder — an extended family of homogenized fonts that would be comfortable on a local newsletter or generic Web page.” (“Warmer, Fuzzier: The Refreshed Logo”, New York Times, 5/30/09)

Justice’s choice of fonts is not his only problem. He cannot be more obvious than using “Justice for All” as the campaign’s slogan. It’s almost bad as Frankly Farkas, which, as a slogan, worked until Kim Berfield and Justice beat Frank in 2006. Maybe Senator Justice hopes to evoke a sense of Al Pacino, from this scene in “…and Justice for All.”

Yet, neither the font, nor the slogan are the worst aspects of Justice’s new logo. What’s strikingly bad is the use of the outline of Justice’s body for the letter “i” in his first name. I’m sorry Charlie, you are a really nice guy, maybe the nicest guy in town, but someone needs to tell you that yours is not the type of body of which one wishes to see a profile. I sympathize with you, truly I do. We suffer from the big bone complex that keeps us, no matter how much tennis we play, from being truly svelte.

I’m growing a beard right now and I think I look like George Clooney in Syriana but just because I think that doesn’t make it so. Our body types are closer in shape to George Kostanza’s…short and stocky. Hence, I subbed out Kostanza’s body type for Justice’s and can’t tell the difference.

Senator Justice, tell your design team to go back to the drawing board and come up with something more Congressional and less Kostanza.


Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including,,, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.

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