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Republican National Committee Unveils Hot New Logo Design, or Something

The words “well thought out” don't exactly spring to mind. But maybe they should…

In anticipation of the 2008 Republican National Convention, to be held in St. Paul's, Minnesota from September 1- 4, 2008, the GOP's arsenal of graphic design geniuses has put together this little gem:


Showing it around the office this morning elicited such exclamations from my design-minded co-workers as, I kid you not, “dear god, that is the worst thing I've ever seen.” But the logo, which is slated to be front and center on all RNC political printing done in the year to come, is far more than simply ugly and puzzling. The longer you look at it, the more it becomes downright problematic.

“Wide stance” jokes aside, it's hard to imagine what designer, backed by what approval committee, decided that “enraged beast” was the right tone to set with this elephant's rearing, air-pawing, tusk-thrusting position. And really, he's an enraged elephant if we're lucky. If we're not lucky, then we're staring at an elephant that's clearly in the throes of – to put it nicely – making sweet, sweet love to 2008.

Either way, I can hardly imagine that this animal's slavering lack of self-control is representative of what the GOP is hoping to convey in 2008.

To further enforce the impression of generalized madness, the poor elephant has been given a star for an eye, used, in this case, it seems, to bring to mind the old stars and stripes. Unfortunately, this graphic design convention has traditionally been used throughout underground comic book design history, to represent a cartoon character, high on some sort of hallucinogenic drug.


This is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to exploring what, exactly, is wrong with the interpretation of the flag on this logo. Ostensibly, the starry eye and the stripes on the elephant's back are designed to invoke old glory. In reality, however, the first flag that comes to mind when you look at this logo is the blue-and-white-striped Israeli flag. But no, you tell yourself, this is clearly the American flag, only, if that is the case, then why are the stars and stripes backwards?

The more I think about this logo, the harder it is for me to take seriously. As the RNC approaches, am I really going to get direct mailers emblazoned with this logo? Are proud little NeoCon children actually going to be spotted sporting t-shirts bearing this confused, enraged, probably intoxicated elephant? It seems increasingly likely that this must be some sort of hoax (but it's not), a tongue-in-cheek leap away from the party's composed and taciturn little mascot.

However, it's also at this point that I begin to ask myself if the professionals involved in putting together this logo could be as fabulously clueless as the above assessment implies. This thought, in turn brings me to a consideration of the strangest part of this logo, namely, the blue-ness of it. Maybe the designer(s) missed the starry eye, maybe it was easy to overlook the enraged posture, and to misplace the elephant's tail, but to choose Dem blue over Republican red? That, my friends, bears all the signs of a bold and calculated attack in the Republican – Democrat BRAND WAR.

Any designer knows that one of the easiest was to build brand equity is through the use of color. Similarly, a very easy way to build your brand is to convince consumers that you're not brand X, but the popular name brand that is associated with the color you're now employing to capitalize on the success of your competition.

In this case, the GOP isn't actually trying to convince voters that they're Democrats. What they are doing, however, is creating brand confusion. By adopting Dem blue as their color, they not only distance themselves from any negative associations voters might make with Republican red, they also undermine the strength of the Dem brand.

Suddenly, the average voter, who is barely paying attention, no longer has color to depend on as an indicator of who's who. Brand instability is created, which is bad if you're working with a strong brand, like the Democrats have right now, but good if you're working with a weak brand, as are the Republicans.

And so, I am forced to wonder, is this crazy new logo simply an example of benign design hamhandedness, or is it, in fact, part of a sinister masterplot to sabotage the Democrat brand identity?

What do you think?


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