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Obama Iconography

August 8, 2008

Gotta give him credit, Senator Obama inspires some awesome graphic artists.  Artists who have learned from the masters of iconography…









Now, it may seem I’m implying that Obama is a Red  — spare me, I’m not.  I’m just noting what seems to me the obvious school of graphic design which being drawn from and “Americanized.”   Its genius.  I mean, such icons worked for Lenin and Mao.   Hell, it’s still working for Che Guevara, and he’s long gone.  Now, should it have worked? — that’s another question.  

And unless my point be confused, I would argue that the Obama campaign is actually tapping into iconograpy of any and every Leader that might appeal to Americans.  Let’s examine the dialectic of the famous Obama “O” symbol (which essentially takes the man beyond icon, into the realm of abstraction).  I break it down this way:

“It’s Morning in America”      “I am the Light of the World”

      +       =                               

Again, this is genius use of imagery.  If Obama wins, history will note the brilliantly innovative use of Image that played a huge role in getting him to the highest office in the land.  From the icons to the pop “praise music” videos — it seems we’re witnessing a whole new level of intentional promotion of a media-driven cult of personality by a political campaign.  And who can blame them?  It just might work.  Now, should it work? — that’s another question.  

— Duke Ray

One Comment leave one →
  1. timmy c permalink
    August 10, 2008 10:14 am


    I agree that like Reagan, who was promising a new day for America, the Obama logo speaks to that same desire, to make a new start, to bring America back to a new more optimistic day…the subtext that Reagan implied was that the “night” was Carter’s Administration’s doing, Obama that it was Bush’s.

    (Think it a stretch hat the sunrise logo = an implication that he is the “Light of the World.” )

    But I also agree that it is a brilliant execution by the Obama camp… Not unprecedented…remember the “W” logo for the last Bush campaign logo? I’d say that was a pretty good use of a logo for the campaign, better than anything that came from the Kerry camp.

    …. But Barack gets extra points for how really well integrated branding/logo/fonts are across the campaign from print to stage, to website to letter head, and as iconic and memorable as any done before in politics, and better than many logos done for corporations.

    Mark Andressen (former Netscape creator) spent an hour and a half with Obama before the campaign was formally launched. He wrote about this exchange:

    “We asked him directly, how concerned should we be that you haven’t had meaningful experience as an executive — as a manager and leader of people?

    He said, watch how I run my campaign — you’ll see my leadership skills in action.

    Actually not a bad metric: a Presidential campaign is like managing a multi year 1/4th billion dollar enterprise…arguably the largest executive effort either McCain or Obama have ever directly managed previously.

    This branding execution is especially good by comparison, think about the relatively forgettable Clinton logo, or the McCain brief attempt at a lime green backdrop color scheme (I never got that…green because of his Irish background?), changing “ad lines” and more or less anonymous logo…

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