Evolving Design in Politics: The Brand of Obama

A while back I had a super-secret brief encounter with kind-of sort-of working on a presidential web campaign. While I can’t say much about the experience it made me realize how completely out of the loop politicians are on web, design, brand, and social media. That is all but Senator Barack Obama. This post is in no way an endorsement of his candidacy for president, even though many would not put it past me to make a major decision based on the quality of someone or something’s logo design. If the president of the United States WAS required to be an All-American Brand Steward, Mr. Obama would the winner.

I have been secretly sitting back watching his online campaign blossom from the first seed of his candidacy with a logo to his full blown online brand campaign with a stunning website. I really wanted to investigate the ins and outs of the whos and whats behind this stellar brand, but I am not all that connected like that. You would think living in DC I would get wind of these things, but a few weeks ago the much more connected blog “Speak Up” broke the 411 on this mystery.

The logo was designed (jointly or separately, depending of what you read into each firm’s blurb) by Chicago-based Sender LLC and mo/de: “We were looking at the ‘o’ of his name and had the idea of a rising sun and a new day,” explains Sol Sender, “The sun rising over the horizon evoked a new sense of hope.” Sutton at least got the sun rising part right. “Undefined”, on the other hand, might be this logo’s strongest asset and the result of clever designers not someone “too inexperienced”.

The post goes on to reveal the sexy implementation of the Obama logo through each page of the site. I have to totally pull this from Speak Up because its so hot I can not handle myself. I get flustered and sweaty just looking at each iteration of the banner. For a more extensive look at this aspect of the Obama Campaign, please check out the “Speak Up” piece.

Overall the attention to detail is really what wins me over on this site. Each icon is carefully crafted and customized around the Obama brand. The only negative criticism I can really give is that I think they overdo it just a little in the main header with layers of texture and lens flair. Just a little over the top with the lens flair, but its ok… I can get pObama Iconsast that.

I did a little more digging on who was responsible for the actual site design and found this post on The Bivings Report where “who” actually designed the site is discussed in the comments. With many merely speculated in the early comments, Ryan Terry later states that he wrote one of the designers on the Obama staff to find out if any of the rumors are a little true. The response he got was:

I am the Creative Director at Obama for America’s, new media department. There is, in fact, a team of people working on the site. All the rumors have their truths. Joe Rospars is the Director of New Media, he founded Blue State Digital, and we do in fact use Blue State Digital as the backend to our site. Chris Hughes the co-founder of Facebook, is in fact overseeing the my.barackobama.com portion of the website, activating users to take action in their communities. The teams consists of many others that all do remarkable work, including John Slabyk, who’s eye is blessed and has been a major force in the site aesthetic, and Michael Slaby the true machine behind the curtain. Not to mention the many other volunteers and staffers that helped in the site design at an absolutely break neck pace.

So there ya go, Obama has assembled a bad-ass team to put together a great visual web campaign . Its a very special thing to see a leader assemble and trust a creative team to take calculated design risks.


  1. — February 7, 2008

  2. Samantha

    — February 7, 2008

  3. — February 9, 2008

  4. Samantha

    — February 9, 2008