Monday, April 7, 2008

Designing Campaigns

Graphic designer Michael Beirut was interviewed by Newsweek magazine and asked to analyze the graphic designs created to "brand" the presidential candidates. He marvels at the consistency and discipline Obama's campaign seemed to maintain in controlling the visual messages of his campaign.

Students could look at the consistency (or lack of consistency) in the logos, letterheads, publications, etc. of their own schools or local businesses and organizations. They can look at slow changes over time of famous brands like Nike, IBM, Apple, Coca-Cola, etc. How have the looks of these companies (and other companies) changed over time?

If this seems like a trivial aspect in comparison to more serious world issues consider the often quoted idea that we used to distinguish products by price, then quality and now DESIGN. Businesses, Fortune 500 companies, Presidential candidates, education reformers - everyone today - underestimates the importance of design at their peril.

Check out Beirut at and use this as an opportunity to make people more aware of design. For example, the typeface used with Obama's logo is called Gotham. Use this as a chance to make students aware that type styles (fonts) are carefully selected, have names, and were designed by typographers.

Beirut also analyzes the candidate's website designs so that suggests another "teachable moment" for design awareness. Have students look at the websites of the candidates and see what the designs say about the candidates' personalities and beliefs.

Michael Beirut works at one of the top design firms in the world called Pentagram. Check out their website and see what students can find out about this exciting place to work.

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