Designing The Obama Campaign
Designing The Obama Campaign

By ANNA AFFIAS

It’s not every day that the President of the United States addresses your work in such a manner, “what you guys have accomplished will go on in history, and people will read about it, they’ll marvel about it, but the most important thing you need to know is that your journey is jus.....

By ANNA AFFIAS

It’s not every day that the President of the United States addresses your work in such a manner, “what you guys have accomplished will go on in history, and people will read about it, they’ll marvel about it, but the most important thing you need to know is that your journey is just beginning, you’re just starting, and whatever good we do over the next 4 years will pale in comparison to what you guys end up accomplishing 4 years and years to come.”

While Obama’s speeches and messaging all played a significant role in the success of winning the 2012 Presidential campaign, it’s hard to not notice the subtle role graphic design and social media played in the overall outcome of the campaign. From the coherent logos, comprehensive fonts, slogans and new web designs, the 2012 campaign took on a whole new role all together, one that created the “Obama Brand.”

Jeffrey Veen once said, “I’ve been amazed at how often those outside the discipline of design assume that what designers do is decoration—likely because so much bad design simply is decoration. Good design isn’t. Good design is problem solving.” That being said, the largest problem the Obama Design Team had to solve was simple, convert the slogan, “coalition for change,” into a consistent brand that would help aid in winning the 2012 presidential election. The solution, on the other hand, was not so simple. The Design Team had to convert messy, unorganized, and pre-existing websites, design materials, and collateral from the previous election into something that had color control, consistent typography, a simplified visual layout, and more interactive components, all while having little to no time to complete tasks before the next.

The Design Director for the Obama Campaign, Scott Thomas, quoted that the process at times was, “simply checking off to-dos.” He also stated that throughout all of the moments of craze there were the moments he called, “moments of magic.” These moments were created from passion, inspiration, hard work, and support. He goes on to explain that prior to starting his position he was told that working for the campaign would be like, “building an airplane in mid-flight… you’re going to be in mid-flight and you’re going to need to fix the wing with duct tape and polish it later. That’s how it’s going to be, we’re going to be on the fly, doing this as fast as freaking possible… and you’ll have to understand that perfection goes out the window.”

Was there risk involved in this masterpiece of change? Absolutely. Particularly in the idea that if something looks good, it can’t possibility work. Or if someone is beautiful, they can’t possibly be smart, etc. Yes, he was attacked for being good-looking without much substance… but what you do if you were losing to this guy?

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