The ‘O’ in Obama

by R27 CREATIVELAB on Monday, 1 December 2008

At the end of 2006, Mode, a motion design studio in Chicago, approached Sol Sender, a graphic designer, to create a logo for Barack Obama’s presidential campaign. The resulting “O” became one of the most recognizable political logos in recent history. ...

Steven Heller: How did you get the job of designing the Obama logo?

Sol Sender: We got the job through Mode. Steve Juras, a classmate of mine from graduate school is the creative director there. They have a long-standing relationship with AKP&D Message and Media, a campaign consulting firm led by David Axelrod and David Plouffe among others.

Q: Have you done other political logos in the past?

A: No, we had not.

Q: I have to ask, since many agencies that do political campaigns are simply “doing a job,” did you have strong feelings one way or the other for the Obama candidacy?

A: We were excited to work on the logo and energized by the prospect of Mr. Obama’s campaign. However, we didn’t pursue or develop the work because we were motivated exclusively by ideology. It was an opportunity to do breakthrough work at the right time in what’s become a predictable graphic landscape.

Q: How many iterations did you go through before deciding on this “O”? Was it your first idea?

A: We actually presented seven or eight options in the first round, and the one that was ultimately chosen was among these. In terms of our internal process, though, I believe the logo — as we now know it — came out of a second round of design explorations. At any rate, it happened quite quickly, all things considered. The entire undertaking took less than two weeks.

Q: How did David Axelrod, Mr. Obama’s chief strategist, respond to your initial presentation?

A: Mode handled that. My sense was that there was a lot of enthusiasm about the options we developed. I was part of a presentation with Mode and Mr. Axelrod to evaluate the final two or three options. There was a general sense that they were all good, but we felt strongly that the chosen logo was the most powerful one.

The ‘O’ in Obama by Steven Heller.
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