Wednesday, September 3, 2008

The RNC's Designs on Obama's Design?

I just logged onto the Republican National Committee’s website. The centerpiece of the homepage is a series of rotating graphics. One of these graphics – the one featuring Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, Sen. McCain’s running mate – caught my eye instantly.

Look familiar? Just in case it doesn’t, now look at this:

It’s part of the banner on the Obama campaign website. Compare the fonts, the colors, the poses. Now check this out from the homepage of the Obama campaign website:

In the graphic featuring Gov. Palin the word "from" is italicized, just as is the word "of" above. This is not that unusual a typographical feature, but it's also not that common, and the RNC's use of it is striking.

Similarly, blue is very common among campaigns. Having been proven again and again to be especially appealing to consumers (esp. when compared to red), this is no surprise. But the shade of blue in the Gov. Palin graphic is remarkably close to the one that the Obama campaign uses.

You’d think that the RNC would want to differentiate its design from that of the Obama campaign – that it wouldn’t want anyone to be struck by similarities. What’s going on here?

I have a quick and dirty theory. The Obama campaign’s logo and fonts have been hot topics of blog posts and in the press throughout the past year. Google “obama design” and you get nearly a million pages on the topic (or so it appears). From what I’ve read, the consensus is that the Obama campaign’s graphics – and its control of the visual message – are brilliant; for instance, Newsweek's "Stumper" featured an analysis back in February that included color commentary from Michael Bierut. Could the RNC be trying to get a little of that marketing and design savvy to rub off on it?

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