Obama: anatomy of a logo

OK, I will admit it. The first thing (OK, the second thing; his speech at the 2004 DNC was the first) that piqued my interest in Barack Obama was the sight of his logo on a sticker, way early on in the primary campaign (like, summer of 2007 early). It was clear right away that Obama had the best design team in the history of political campaigns working for him.

Let’s take a look at what makes this logo so great. Ultimately what it boils down to is that every detail is imbued with relevant meaning, and the overall result is very aesthetically pleasing.

First, it’s an O, for Obama. No-brainer there. It incorporates the requisite colors: red, white and blue. But what it does with them, and with a few simple shapes, is brilliant. The red and white stripes of the U.S. flag are there as well, blended into an unmistakable and powerful image: the sun rising over a rural American hillside (a cornfield, no less) into a perfect, clear blue sky. Now that’s “morning in America.”

On a related note, I’ll leave it to you to interpret the meaning of the logo’s appearance in a John McCain commercial.

On another related note, this.

Periods. Overused. Everywhere. The Mad Libs approach to marketing

I spotted this ad for Little People Big World, a TLC reality show, in a magazine recently. I’ll save the matter of the exploitative (or perhaps self-exploitative) nature of the show for another rant. Or not; honestly I don’t really care. What does bother me is the copy on the ad. I mean: The. Copy. On. The. Ad.

I have loathed marketing’s overuse of the period for as long as I can remember. And I do distinctly remember loathing it when I was no more than 10 or 11, at least. In fact, I specifically remember seeing this usage on the billboard that used to be on top of the old liquor store where Oakland Avenue curves and becomes a one-way at 12th St SW, where now there’s a Kwik Trip, in my hometown of Austin, Minnesota. And I complained to my mom about it. Yes, I remember things like this. Forever.

But I think marketing’s abuse of the period has grown increasingly loathsome in recent years, resulting in utterly pointless examples like what you see here. I suppose “Live. Lived. Large.” does, perhaps, convey a slightly different meaning than simply saying “Life lived large.” But, really. Does it ultimately serve any purpose greater than annoying me?

I’ve come to realize, though, that there’s a very easy formula here, suitable to serve as the foundation for a Mad Libs approach to writing marketing copy. Observe:

I suppose I shouldn’t be using the Mad Libs logo without their permission, but come on… they claim it’s “the world’s greatest word game!” (Exclamation point included.) Take that, Scrabble! (I mean, “Scrabble BRAND Crossword Game”) Besides… does the world really need a Space Chimps-themed Mad Libs book?

Got a good marketing tagline using the Mad Lib? Post it below!

This is what I’ve imagined every time I’ve been in an elevator with mirrors on both sides…

Valve Software, makers of the Half-Life series, will soon release a new set of games set in that universe, called The Orange Box. The most intriguing element of this, for me, is a game called Portal. The game equips you with a special gun that can create teleportation holes at will. What does that mean? Allow them to demonstrate: