Logobama Mania or Separated at Birth?

After the meteoric ascendency of Barack Obama from junior senator to leader of the free world, I think one of the lesser known factors of his campaign was instrumental in his success; namely his innovative logo.

Historically, the first logo ever developed was designed in 293 BC by a group of Greek physicians. Believing that a symbol could readily identify an organization and leave a lasting impression, the symbol of a snake wrapped around a staff evolved into the caduceus symbol that is still used by the medical profession today.

Caduceus symbolCaduceus symbol

Today, we use logos for the same reasons they were introduced historically -- to demonstrate pride in our product or service. Logos help companies get noticed and leave a lasting impression with an intended target audience. Nike, McDonald’s and Coca Cola are some of the most globally recognizable logos as they are instantly recognizable by millions of people and help convey a message about the brands for which they stand.

Barack Obama, as an astute observer of human nature realized that the standard logos used in political campaigns were too old-school, too last-century to portray the new type of campaign he wanted to run in the 21st Century. So he commissioned Sol Sender, a graphic designer to draft a logo that would distinguish him from the pack. When Sender's team created a white sunrise against a blue sky, ascending over the red and white stripes of the US flag, a now-recognizable "O" rising over the land was born.

Obama LogoObama Logo

However, as with all new innovation, critics swiftly surfaced. While bloggers took to the blogwaves like wildfire expressing their opinions, the illustrious illustrator Ward Sutton was quick to provide us with a visual critique that passed mocking judgment on Obama’s new trademark.

Ward SuttonWard Sutton

But as the months of the primary campaign rolled on, an interesting query arose from the masses. Was Barack’s logo influenced by others, or were others following the trend established by our now newly appointed president. Or was there some kind of alignment of the stars, where people were metaphysically connecting and creating similar ideas. In other words was imitation (the sincerest form of flattery) at work, or was a synchronicity allowing similar acts to evolve, independently of each other. So I ask you...Logobama Mania or Separated at Birth?

Let’s look at some of the examples of Obama’s appeal and the variations of his symbol that simultaneously started popping up around the globe by mega-brands, organizations and even independent countries.

Pepsi-Cola is currently making waves with a new ad campaign that not only looks similar to the Obama logo but alsoPepsi's new LogoPepsi's new Logo paraphrases the Obama campaign rhetoric, with catch phrases such as 'Optimism' and Yes We Can.' Perhaps Pepsi is looking for a way to profit from the hopeful symbolism that was projected by the campaign.





When the Democratic Alliance in Cape Town, South Africa launched itself as a "party of government." you might be thinking their logo bears a striking resemblance to the "O" logo as well. But is this a case of political plagiarism? "No," insists DA strategist and CEO Ryan Coetzee. "There was no conscious copying of the Obama logo."

South Africa Democratic AllianceSouth Africa Democratic Alliance

In the case of the CarbonFund.org, given the affinity between the two organizations, one has to ponder if this was an intentional decision by a designer trying to benefit from another brand, or if this environmentally conscience organization simply reacted positively to round logos with a sun, field and sky. CarbonFund.orgCarbonFund.org

While the timing of this new batch of logos all indicated a post-2000 sentimentality, might there have been some earlier influence that was a catalyst for great minds thinking alike? Might Obama have channeled a previous political figure when he collaborated with this logo-designer? The answer is possibly yes. If you were to go back to 1972, you might be reminded of George McGovern’s campaign logo. See any similarities here?


George McGovern Campaign LogoGeorge McGovern Campaign Logo

And if variations on a theme have potential, there are a whole slew of organizations and corporations that might benefit equally by following in the steps of Logobama mania:

What about Gay Pride?

Gay Pride Obama logoGay Pride Obama logo

Perhaps the Walt Disney organization could garner some advantage?

Disney Obama LogoDisney Obama Logo

Heck, what about the author of this article getting his own Obama logo?

Ron Callari Obama logoRon Callari Obama logo

That’s right… the website to create your very own Obama logo is available at Logobama.com. Any one who wants to become part of history can now associate themselves with one of the most innovative and inventive political campaigns in our history.

So whether or not, the Obama logo was created in tandem or independently from the others outlined here, I tend to believe that the movement that is afoot in our country today is asking for a collective discourse and a coming together of peoples.

We are now once again a nation where the whole is greater than its parts. The prayer that prophetically states: "we are the ones we’ve been waiting for" is very apropos here, since symbolically I believe the development of the Obama logo was just the first step in the evolution of this thought process.

Jan 23, 2009
by Ron Callari

Carbonfund.org and Obama Logos

Eric, thanks for your feedback. The article as I am sure you are aware was written with a little "tongue & cheek," but thanks for your clarifications. As your comment reinforces, "great minds think alike!"

Ron Callari is a freelance journalist and editorial cartoonist. His published work includes trends, current events, travel and political articles.

Feb 2, 2009
by Ron Callari

Pepsi defends use of campaign-like rhetoric in TV commercials

Pepsi Responds to Obama Logo Controversey

NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Has Pepsi aligned its marketing graphics and rhetoric too closely with that of President Obama's election campaign? That issue has been ricocheting around the blogosphere of late and Pepsi brands chief Frank Cooper officially addressed it as part of the company's pre-Super Bowl press conference this week. At one point, Mr. Cooper almost seemed to suggest that the Obama campaign may have found the inspiration for its own logo in Pepsi's marketing images -- rather than visa-versa.