Whether you like the outcome of the election or not, this — I believe — was the most important change in the recent presidential campaign vs. previous campaigns: good design. Honestly, can you remember a well-designed logo from any previous political campaign? Barack Obama’s people hired Sender LLC to design a logo, and MODE to handle the film and video duties for the national campaign. The “O” logo is a brilliant embodiment of the “hope” message of Obama’s campaign, and therefore makes it a powerful “single read” identifier or placeholder/surrogate for the campaign. More powerful still, the simple fact of a well-designed logo immediately tells the viewer that this organization “has it together”. The videos and ads continued that marketing push with well-designed graphics and a perfectly-set “tone” for the current national climate. Regardless of whether you like Obama, we can admire and acknowledge the successful role that good design had in winning the election for Barack Obama.
Matthew Creamer from Advertising Age takes it one step further, and argues that Obama’s team did something crazy with their marketing: they succeeded at “reimagin[ing] who his audience, or his customers, could be. His win was in many ways about ditching doctrine and boldly plunging into places where most wouldn’t necessarily expect the brand to work — which is to say places such as Indiana — and then winning them over”:
The result was a brand that was big enough to be anything to anyone yet had an intimate-enough feel to inspire advocacy that raised funds at record-breaking, almost obscene levels and gave birth to a massive network of on-the-ground supporters who were so crucial in the get-out-the-vote effort that added incremental Democratic ballots.
The article challenges us as marketers to continue to re-imagine our own marketing efforts, and check whether we are underestimating who our target market should be. Don’t settle for what conventional wisdom says; rather, think big, and come up with the big ideas to back it up.
Edit: Forgot to add this very interesting article breaking down the online ad expenditures for the Obama campaign. Some smart moves here.