A political campaign is a thinly veiled form of advertising, but logo designone of the oldest branding techniques of the ad gamehas historically been cast aside by political world, which prefer to restrict its bumper stickers and promotional materials to a sea of bland stars and stripes. Until Obama 08. At once traditional and innovative, the Obama rising sun-logo was a breakthrough in modern campaign design, an iconic image from the moment it was first unveiled.
And the buzz hasnt ended with the campaign. On Thursday evening a crowd gathered at San Franciscos Academy of Art University for “Designing Obama,” a sold-out lecture given by the men behind the symbolSol Sender, the logo designer, and Scott Thomas, the director of new media design. Theres a pretty thorough rundown of Senders presentation on his company website, giving a summary of the design process, and a rundown of all the rejected images.
The final Obama logo entered back into public debate when it was ripped off by Pepsi. The company claimed their redesign was completely independent of the campaign’s logo, until they began plastering the eerily similar image on billboards reading “Hope” in cities across the nation. However, Sender claims the success of the logo has more to do with the momentum behind its message than the image itself. One of the really magical aspects was that people just took
[the design] and did all these things with it a brand like Pepsi would kill for
that,” explains Sender.
The most informative moment of the lecture took place during the Q&A section. The art-student crowd was anxious to know if Obamas design aesthetic would usher in a new need for exciting graphic design in the political sphere. Surprisingly both designers were skeptical. Im not sure you can do a transformative thing like this unless you have a really transformative candidate, says Sender. Neither Sender nor Thomas have any plans to continue on with campaign design: Sender has returned to his firm, and Thomas is working on a book about his experience.
And you certainly wont see Thomass mark on the whitehouse.gov sight. According to Thomas, the Bush administration extended their web designer’s contract for two years into Obamas term. So until then, it’s just same old.