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One-Minute MarketerBiggest Mistake of Iowa Caucuses

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Biggest Mistake of Iowa Caucuses

Many were lambasting the State of Iowa for being late with caucus results. In my opinion, being right is more important than hitting a news deadline (Rick Santorum would agree with me).

In my opinion, the biggest communications mistake of the night was not made by the Iowa Democratic Party, it was made by CNN and many other news outlets. The mistake had to do with color wheel and contrasting color design.

john king magic boardScreenshot 2020-02-05 at 6.57.20 AM

If you want to communicate color variations on a screen, you should select colors that provide a high contrast to the viewer. Contrasting colors in design help establish a visual hierarchy. They help organize information quickly. Contrasting colors also provide visual interest. This is even more important on a screen, especially one that is going to be displayed through a camera to your home TV screen.

If you want to be clear and communicate key differences, especially in a chart, contrasting colors is a basic, fundamental design principal all should embrace.


The Des Moines Register changed it’s color palette. I don’t know if they read my blog, but the they did make a change for the better. Live Iowa Caucus Results 2020 - The New York Times


Written by:

Mark wrote his first direct-mail fundraising letter in 1981 for the University of Iowa Center for Advancement. The effort raised a few million dollars in undiscovered wills and legacy gifts. From that day forward Mark discovered a love of the big idea that moves the needle. After 12 years at KWWL, Mark became a business owner as a co-founder of ME&V — rebranded as AMPERAGE in 2015. After 25 years of leading creative teams in video production, graphic design, PR, writing and web development, Mark transitioned out of ownership in 2021. Today he serves in an employee role as special projects consultant. He is creatively ambidextrous — son of an artist and engineer — and famous for distilling complex ideas down to a few words and a few visuals. Mark is a writer. When he found that many nonprofits struggled with complex branding puzzles, he wrote the book, “NonProfit-NonMarketing .” He also wrote a novel called “Reenactment.” Mark is an active blogger OneMinuteMarketer® with nearly 1,000 readers each week on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter. One of his most popular YouTube videos is on “How to Look Good on Zoom.” One of Mark’s fondest business memories was being named to INC 500 two times and attending the INC 500 conference with other winners. Mark is considered by some a Civil War expert (and that explains his novel). Mark also served as an adjunct professor in the business and in the communications departments at Wartburg College. Mark is a graduate of the University of Iowa and is currently vice president of the University of Iowa Journalism and Mass Communications Advisory Board. Mark is married to state Sen. Liz Mathis, and the two love to travel, even when it means being trapped by a volcano in the Czech Republic for three weeks.