Branding in Politics

One cannot deny the clear division of of branding between Barack Obama and John McCain. What’s interesting about that statement is the fact that the presidential candidates really are turning themselves into a brand… a commodity that you want to purchase and support. I personally think Obama’s branding has been extremely eye-catching and successful. But HEY – I could be biased with my graphic design background and “Barack the Vote” shirt I’m wearing right now. 😉 Designed by Chicago-based, Sender LLC and mo/de, Obama’s logo is successful in that it has truly become a mark that is recognizable and can be used independently from his name. Let’s Take a look at their websites:

JohnMcCain.com

*blue color scheme + stars
*simple roll-overs
*clear separation between sections – more outlining and borders (seems to fill and clutter the pg)
*serif font for headers and tall sans-serif condensed font for section links (a little intense – militaristic)
*uses photos for section links (adds lots of color – too much in my opinion)
*short scroll on the home pg

BarackObama.com

* blue, red and white color scheme
*simple roll-overs
*clear separations between sections
*sans-serif font
*uses vector images and symbols for section links
*embraces the scroll (the pg is long and you can scroll down to see more)

Check out the brand extension for Obama: He has unique logos for his supporters.

In a Newsweek article Michael Beirut discussed the power of Obama’s logo and how it relates to the Nike swoosh. “People look at it and know what it means, even though it’s just an “O” with some stripes in it.”

Consistency is also something the Obama campaign has achieved. Almost all of Obama’s promotional materials use the typface “Gotham” which, according to Michael Beirut, is very difficult even with “corporate clients.” He continues to say, “I’m not sure that the commander-in-chief proves his mettle by getting everyone at his rallies to set their signs in the same typeface, but as someone who knows how hard that is, I’m very impressed.” I actually laughed out loud when I read this. I love how much credit graphic designers give to Obama and his campaign. We just love a good font. 🙂

So, we get that designers love his stuff, but how does Obama’s brandng affect people who are NOT graphic designers? Obama has created a brand that is very comfortable and American. There is nothing revolutionary or demanding about his website, so it feels safe. It appeals to the entre country and is not too “design-y.” I think Obama’s idea of a “Coalition for Change” has transcended his logo, creating a brand based on concepts and not the logo itself. Whether or not it has been or will be as successful as Nike, Target or Apple, it has definitely changed the way Presidential candidates market themselves and their policies. “I suspect that the novel comfort of that brand affiliation contributes (however subconsciously) to his appeal.” (Michael Beirut) Let’s see if this will ultimately lead to his success. *fingers crossed*

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