Cory Booker’s New Branding

I first learned about Cory Booker during the early part of my career when he was the mayor of Newark, and I was working in Baltimore’s City Hall. His approach to government and leadership inspired me, particularly his unapologetic and unrelenting enthusiasm. It was clear that he loved Newark, and he seemed prepared to will it into the best version of itself if he had to.

Local government approaches tend to be less partisan or ideological and more arbitrary. Cory took a technocratic, startup-minded approach to government that resonated with me. It felt like the embodiment of David Brooks’ “thoroughly modern do-gooder” — a term that quickly wove its way into my identity. For those reasons, Mayor Cory Booker became one of the defining leaders of the early 2000s for me.

That said, Senator Cory Booker lost me. During the 2010s, I became more conservative while he more closely aligned himself with the Democratic Party’s base in the hopes of running for president. And during his recent campaign for president, I found it challenging to connect with his branding on any level. To me, it felt awkward and inauthentic—like it was trying a bit too hard.

Cory Booker 2020 Branding
Source: Cory 2020. License: All Rights Reserved. (via Fonts In Use)

Now, I’ll be the first to acknowledge that “it felt awkward and inauthentic” is 100% my opinion, and I was not the target audience for Cory 2020’s branding. But as someone who’s followed his career for more than a decade, I could never escape the feeling that the campaign didn’t feel like him. It’s an instinct, for sure, but I am going to stand by it.

Recently, with Cory off the campaign trail and refocused on his role in the Senate, the veteran team at Wide Eye re-imagined his branding in a way that I find much more authentic and engaging. It’s iterative of the Cory 2020 branding, but excellently so.

Cory Booker’s New Senate Branding
Cory Booker for Senate branding circa February 2020 (Source: Yello)

Here, the colors are bolder, and the fonts are stronger. The cleanliness and minimalist approach of the brand echoes Cory’s longtime focus on effectiveness over showiness. Maybe that was what felt off about his presidential campaign’s branding: it felt showy. It was trying to be interesting. This refresh is clearly trying to be functional, but with personality.

Screenshot: Cory for Senate’s Homepage
Screenshot: Cory for Senate’s Homepage (Feb. 2020)

The homepage similarly reflects Cory’s technocratic bias, focusing only on what it needs to do. It also immediately conveys his boldness, his joy, and his focus on serving New Jersey. It’s a perfect example of how a great political website.

I believe that authenticity is perhaps the most important thing in politics. With this new approach to his branding, Cory Booker seems (to me) to have captured his authentic self. Much credit is due to the Wide Eye team for helping him find his way to that result.