Obama’s Typographic Legacy

Image via Wikimedia Commons

The relative distinctiveness of campaign logos is a recent development: There was a time when they all looked basically the same, give or take a star, often featuring the same stylized, waving flag.

The 1990s and early 2000s were a different time, with less media noise and fewer shiny objects vying for voters’ attention, so there was less need for candidates to distinguish themselves through symbolism and color—and perhaps a hesitation to do anything that stood out too much. Instead, virtually all of them opted for similar shades of red and blue, and used similar fonts and imagery.

It was the 2008 election, and that famous letter “O,” that changed everything, says designer Sagi Haviv, a partner in the New York firm Chermayeff & Geismar & Haviv who has designed logos for the Library of Congress, Armani Exchange, and Harvard University Press, among other clients.

Ali Elkin writing for Bloomberg Politics about campaign logo design. Elkin posits that President Barack Obama’s iconic “O” logo fundamentally shifted the way candidates think about design and branding. Her piece also includes a wonderful critique of the 2016 campaign logos from designer Sagi Haviv.

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