Obama’s branded materials amplify his already charismatic nature through a unique charismatic aesthetic that fit organically into his brand’s populist world. This aesthetic communicated Obama’s connection with ordinary people in a very different way from other campaigns. As critic Andrew Romano writes, “Reinforced with a coherent, comprehensive program of fonts, logos, slogans and web design, Obama is the first presidential candidate to be marketed like a high-end consumer brand" (Source). By embedding Obama's identity myth in every piece of branded material the campaign was able to connect with customers much like a high-end brand. Two pieces of branded media that were particularly important in the campaign was the logo and the font.
- Logo design lead Sol Sender discusses the design process for the Obama logo in the below two videos. The Obama logo was the first time that a American Presidential campaign had a logo according to Sender. To learn about the design process in it's entirety I encourage you to watch the interviews.From a cultural branding perspective the Obama logo perfectly connects with the brand identity myth. Before the design team starting working on the logo they read both of Obama's books and focused in on a couple key sections. Specifically the team was interested in the idea of erasing boundaries so that there aren't red and blue states any more, just one country. Through this process the team immersed themselves in the brand's populist world and existential issues to better understand how to integrate the brand identity into the logo. The strongest logos tell a simple story so by starting with Obama's story the team was the full power of that story.
The logo design conveys a Obama's message of community, change, and belief perfectly. The rising “O” functions as a symbol of unity beyond just the candidates first initial. The flag represents a fertile field and the swooping stripes of the flag show patriotic progress. Lastly, the sun rising over the horizon symbolizes the hope and belief that Obama is the dawning of a new day in America politics. These layers of meaning and connection to Obama's original identity myth were why this logo was so successful. As Sender rightly notes in the interview, “The logo wouldn’t have worked unless it stood for something real…if it doesn’t stand doesn’t stand from something that means something to people than it’s not going to work.”
- Typefaces are often the bread and butter of campaigns. Many campaigns simply rely on typography alone. Choosing the right typeface takes a long time and designers must be very careful of the hidden associations people might have with a typeface. The Obama campaign famously chose the typeface Gotham, which was originally designed for GQ Magazine and as described by designer Michael Bierut is "a sleek, purposefully not fancy, very straightforward, plainspoken font, but done with a great deal of elegance and taste--and drawn from very American sources" (Source). One typeface website goes further in saying, "Gotham inherited an honest tone that's assertive but never imposing, friendly but never folksy, confident but never aloof" (Source). All of these qualities tie perfectly into the Obama brand identity.
- As the 2012 Campaign begins the Obama campaign is holding on to elements of the old campaign, but adapting them to fit a new myth. The design team has added serifs to the Gotham font and added a lighter blue to the campaigns color palette. They've maintained the original logo, probably a good call considering its cultural capitol. Most importantly he has chosen his new campaign word "Forward." This word choice connects with the campaigns message above moving forward and completing the projects Obama set out to do in 2008. They are also insinuating that the challenger will take the country backward. It will be interesting to see how the campaign team reinvents the Obama Identity myth in 2012 as so many people are dissatisfied with his performance as President. I think they are on the right path with the word Forward, because it connects in with American's doubt of the future and reassures them that there will be progress forward. It will be difficult for Obama to highlight many of his achievements as President, because many of them are very divisive. However, if the campaign connects with American's search for an identity as an existential issue, they could craft a myth around American unity.What are your thoughts? How will the Obama cultural brand change for the 2012 election?