I was invited to contribute an article to Grafik Magazine as part of their Logoform feature. This article was written whilst working at Creative Inc and was published in Grafik in September 2009.
Barack Obama 2008
Logos designed for political campaigns receive an enormous amount of publicity, becoming widely recognisable in a short space of time. They must capture the zeitgeist, appeal to a mass audience and encourage action but they don’t necessarily need to have longevity.
Barack Obama’s logo for his 2008 Presidential Campaign was designed by Chicago design firm Sender LLC. The logo depicts the sun rising over the horizon to evoke a new sense of hope - a new day signifying a time for change. This graphic is encapsulated within the ‘O’ of Obama’s name and uses colours and stripes synonymous with American patriotic language.
While the logo is traditional in it’s design it is remarkable in context as it broke with what had become a fairly predictable graphic language of Presidential campaigns. The approach of Obama’s team was unusual in it’s extensive use of a logo and in its seamless and sophisticated approach to the branding of the official campaign.
The campaign embraced the latest channels and technologies of communication to get their message across and therefore the logo appeared on everything from newspapers to social networking sites. The accessibility of the mark through new technologies and channels encouraged people to respond to it in new and interesting ways, it became a logo which was widely adapted and customised. Those officially working on the campaign created variations of the mark to speak to different sectors of the population while in the public arena the logo gathered a grassroots energy through supporters’ adoption and application of it.
Traditionally, logos are heavily guarded by guidelines, manuals and trademarks however while this logo was designed and managed officially in the manner of a corporate mark, it also took on a new energy through grassroots involvement, which is common with political imagery in a time of change. Rather than diluting the message it was the audience’s interaction with this corporate style logo which made it more recognisable and iconic.