New Work for Dave Miller for Sheriff
I don’t usually do political work, but in 2018 I was contacted by Dave Miller, Chief of Police in Canton, SD. He told me he was running as an Independent candidate for sheriff in Lincoln County because he didn’t believe Sheriff should be a political job. I agreed. So I decided to help him out with a small identity package that included logo, original photography, social profile images, and social posts.
Client: Dave Miller for Sheriff
Design & Art Direction: Andrew Brynjulson
Photographer: Walter Portz
I love a good under-dog story and beings that he was running as an Independent in a hardcore Republican state, in a mostly rural county, against a powerful Republican party, AND wasn’t taking political contributions, this definitely qualified.
To start, we studied the visual aesthetic of the other candidates and unsurprisingly saw red, sheriff stars, and a variety of typographic choices.
His competitors went up against each other in the Republican primary, with one emerging the winner. In this case, the winner was Steve Swenson.
We decided to avoid the politically charged red or blue color palettes, opting instead for more sophisticated palette derived from his time in the Navy.
For a mark, we looked for some sort of holding shape for his name that was unique, recognizable from a distance, and of course worked well in a yard sign.
We ultimately chose to go with a shield shape, inspired by his position as Chief of Police in Canton. His job as Chief made him a recognizable figure in the county and a badge or shield shape was a way to capitalize on that.
I reached out to my photographer friend, Walter Portz. We’ve worked on projects together in the past where Walter has mastered the art of the dramatic portrait. Walter and I brought Dave into the studio to capture a set of images that felt heroic and tough, but also kind and revered. After all, this was the man who needed to be tough enough to attack drugs and crime, but tender enough to protect our children and schools. Walter knocked it out of the park.
I learned that it takes more than a good candidate with a good identity to win an election. You need to amplify that identity to move the needle.
Chief Miller was the most qualified, most experienced, and most equipped for the job. Unfortunately, as you’re probably aware, those things aren’t enough in politics. The reality was that Dave was not a politician. He didn’t have a party to grease the wheels. He didn’t have a campaign manager. He didn’t accept money. And, of course, he had a day job.
Needless to say we lost. Big time. Like 70/20 big.
In the end, it was a good exercise and I was happy with the work. But it remains a cautionary tale for me: a seed planted won’t grow unless you water it.
~Andrew Brynjulson is a Sioux Falls-based freelance designer and art director specializing in logo, web and brand design. He often writes about art, design, marketing and business. Share your thoughts, @BrenniFresh.