Obama Logo / Nanidesu?

Striking resemblance to old mark for Knoth & Mead Company


Above: Top left, mark 8348 (Knoth & Mead Company), on page 26 of Al Cooper’s, World of Logotypes (Vol.3). 1982. Art Direction Book Company, NY, NY.


Above: Knoth & Mead Company, detail.


Above: Obama’s two color variation (sticker, see overprint) for the current campaign. This variation show strong associations, and I might suggest that the stroke width of the geometric O is also a strong sign.


Above: The official mark.


Above: A variation found on Obama Valley.

Geotypografika knows that these things happen, but more than stunned surprise sounded while paging through this book a colleague (Kindra Murphy) had borrowed from our library.

Here is a reference from Speak Up on the logo designers, which was “designed jointly… by Chicago-based Sender LLC and mo/de.”

You decide. Chicken, or egg?

11 Responses to “Obama Logo / Nanidesu?”


comments soon! class now.

Chris Burns added these words on Mar 12 08 at 5:37 PM

I think that the Obama logo thing is happen
chance? I don’t know, that’s my theory. I do
think that similarities are striking, but it also
seems to happen more and more in this
contemporary world. We have been visually
bum-rushed and are massive recyclers.

Maybe this is just a very sustainable piece of
design? Eh, eh?

I am so funny.

Dylan C. Lathrop added these words on Mar 12 08 at 6:18 PM

A fair minded and excellent point, Dylan. This could be coincidence.

Erik Brandt added these words on Mar 12 08 at 6:35 PM

Review/analyzation of the Obama campaign design in a Newsweek interview with Michael Bierut here.

Chris Burns added these words on Mar 12 08 at 8:07 PM

A coincidence predetermined by hyper-consumerism. I’m struck by the echoes between the politician and the corporation, and also the easy associational slide into the last election’s W vs. our surfacing O. Remember the second campaign’s emphasis on W, like a giant Nike swoosh on the wall behind the podium.

E (lisabeth) added these words on Mar 12 08 at 8:10 PM

To that end though, it’s very apparent when G.W. gets up and talks to the country he is using a decomplexified language that is directed at a broad (but some might call it “uneducated”) audience. He uses tropes, talking points and clichés to hook in the mass for consumption of his thinking. So, is this shortening of names to letters to (now) symbols a reflection of that type of political mentality? Is the Obama “O” no different than “I am the decider”? They are speaking to us as an uneducated mass, or as if they are catch phrases Bruce Willis spits out while slaying the terrorists and saving the world. Is all we have left these quips and overtly simplistic marks? Is that what communication in America has come down to?

I wonder how “Yippy Kaye Yay” would look on a McCain bumper sticker. I worry we are not that far off.

Dylan C. Lathrop added these words on Mar 13 08 at 12:44 PM

Let’s remember the whole American flag lapel-pin controversy. I am still vastly impressed with Obama’s refusal to wear that pin, acting precisely against the reasons you describe above, Dylan. To me, that was a fascinating turn, however small – it hits to the heart of these important issues.

I believe?

Erik Brandt added these words on Mar 14 08 at 7:36 AM

I think that was a moment of redefining civic pride, for sure. Obama’s speeches are definitely refining the American political voice, but I think the Bush residue will be on our country for a while. Our outrage has become complacent and our patriotism displaced. These things will take time to be reinvented, which is why I worry about following into the visual/graphic tactics so similarly seen previously by our current leader.

That being said, I will be first to march behind the unity of visual communication if it does hold up to a) the standards of progressive ideas and b) does not keep us wading in the depths of ease and fear.

Dylan C. Lathrop added these words on Mar 14 08 at 9:10 AM

Another Reference case:
Dieter Rams vs Jonathan Ive

Chris Burns added these words on Mar 15 08 at 7:04 PM

I think when something is as simplified and reduced as a sun against a field, it cannot ever be “copywrited” or claimed as the original and and all be all. The concept could easily been arrived at separately, and the way it developed (with the geometric “o” for instance) was organic, and involved many people. Kind of hard to make into a conspiracy, even though those are fun. Finally, even if the folks at Sender where aware of this mark, I think that it was developed sufficiently past that initial sketch to render it original for what it is.

Meghan Newell added these words on May 07 09 at 2:47 PM

Well said, Meghan! I almost thought your comment was spam, thanks for taking the time to write. Hard to believe this post went up so long ago, but your points are measured and accurate, it seems to me. Thanks for adding to the discussion!

Erik Brandt added these words on May 07 09 at 3:19 PM

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