Obama's Logo Failure
For a brand to be really effective, it has to engender trust and credibility. That means people have to do more than just know who you are. They have to know why they should care about who you are. That means your brand has to do more than just announce itself. It has to set the public's expectations about what they're getting and what you're offering. Once you have all that stuff down, you can begin to craft your brand strategy.
And once you have your brand strategy, then you can get started on a logo.
The misunderstanding of logos was continued recently, with the Obama administration's unveiling of its graphic emblem representing its recovery efforts. The mark is, to put it plainly, an absolute failure, for a few reasons:
First, just as with any failed brand strategy, the emblem merely describes the entity, instead of depicting how it's the only solution to the prospect's problem. This is bad. Really bad. If all your logo does is communicate what you are, you're permitting everyone who views it to set their own expectations of you. That's hugely dangerous, because in a heartbeat, everyone viewing the logo applies it to their own, personal agenda. With 300 million people looking at one emblem, you can see how that might cause more than a little disappointment.
Second, the logo depicts the wrong information. Sure, it shows symbols of economic sectors, but so what? It leaves out more than it includes. More to the point, it's actually a graphical list of problems instead of solutions. I don't care how well you draw, that's the wrong message to send to a nation that voted for sea change.
Third, because of the first two points, the mark comes across as just another government office here to serve you. It simply doesn't inspire anyone to get up off his couch and be part of the solution. Recall the only phrase anyone remembers from John F. Kennedy's administration: "Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country." JFK had it right: get people involved. This mark - and the strategy behind it - is far more comfortable on the side of a government service vehicle than on the front of a banner at a public rally.
Look at Franklin Delano Roosevelt's programs if you want a taste of inspiration. Every one of his programs were just as "socialistic" as they come, but they inspired a country to get back to work.
Of course, what you're really seeing here is the same lack of true brand understanding in Obama's administration as you do say, at General Motors. Before Obama's election, hack, frauds and pundits were bandying bits about "brand Obama" as if there really was something to it. Surprise: There never was. "Brand Obama" was actually a half-baked message of change. The big question was always "Change to what?" And that question was never answered.
Don't get me wrong; I'm all for changing course from where America was headed. And I kind of like the new captain of the ship. What concerns me is that even if everyone gets on board with this new logo, we're setting sail without a map.