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A closer look at the Debates '98 logo

© St. Petersburg Times, published October 18, 1998

T. PETERSBURG -- It seems like such a simple thing, but it takes considerable time and thought to design a logotype appropriate for a political debate, especially if the insignia must serve a dual purpose.

A logotype, more often referred to as a logo, is like a trademark in commerce. It must be eye-catching, attractive and a symbol the viewer immediately associates with a product, in this case, the U.S. Senate and Florida gubernatorial campaign debates sponsored by the St. Petersburg Times Oct. 19 and 20.

"We wanted something fresh. We wanted something that said Florida. We wanted something that said politics," said Times executive editor Paul Tash.

The job fell to the newspaper's art director, Don Morris, who designed the logo for the vice presidential debate in St. Petersburg in 1996.

Don Morris
"It started out that we had a Florida flag within the boundaries of the state," said Morris. "But one debate is national, and one is state, and the logo had to reflect that. We also were looking down the road at something we could use again. You always like to do a logo that has some shelf life."

So Morris took the texture of a United States flag painted by Times staff artist Teresanne Cossetta and superimposed it over the state.

"We really wanted to localize it, too, so we put a star on Tampa Bay," Morris said.

Tash said he is very pleased with the results.

"Don brings a populist attitude to the job," Tash said. "If it's something only another designer would get, Don won't go for it. His work has a broad appeal."

Even the choice of typefaces for "Debates '98" took some consideration.

The typeface for "Debates" is Zurich. New Baskerville was used for " '98."

"Both fonts are used in the newspaper regularly," Morris said, "and we wanted to have unity with the rest of the paper."


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