A campaign font that says, “there’s gold in them thar hills!”

I notice Obama re-election campaign is rolling out its latest visual art:

In 2008, I think the campaign used Gotham sans serif. This was, I would say, for 2008 a funky font. A bold choice. It took messaging from a relatively unknown candidate and gave it the feel of something made out of marble, authoritative, solid.

The original campaign font became modified along the way, and I admit only a casual knowledge about font names. I think the next one [the campaign had] used is called “Requiem”.

For the 2012 campaign, someone is introducing more fresh font. It has even provoked a bit of debate in the campaign, as you can see from this post, and an example that is from the link in one of the comments.

I like the new font, and the experimentation. This is visual art, and because it’s politics, you want to create a feeling. For certain, you don’t want to create a feeling that reminds anyone of the year 2008. Two thousand eight was a big victory for Barack Obama, but it’s also the year the economy cratered, and, really, the start of the Bad Times. The Republicans try to blame Obama enough for that. You don’t want your campaign font suggesting that he was there and part of it all, which is what a strung-out electorate is going to “feel” if you don’t move ahead to something new.

What the one commenter did, in his example, though, is going too far afield. The logos to the bottom have too futuristic a feel. Like 1970’s science fiction. Or even pop advertising art from that time. When your main campaign symbol evokes the “O” in the Mobil brand, you want to spice the other lettering up. The very bottom one in those examples only says to me that “it’s the perfect world of the 23rd century. There’s only one catch.”

So someone in the campaign decided to introduce a font that looks a great deal like Clarendon, but isn’t. This has its own risks, because Wells Fargo is putting its branding out on all the East Coast acquisitions it made during the Bad Times, so I think that people in the Northeast associate this font with the fact that their Wachovia branch just changed again.

Wells Fargo is using a font that connects with its heritage as the stagecoach bank of the West. The old West. So it’s smart that the Obama campaign is using a font that is like Clarendon.

It gives a familiar feel, looks similar to a popular font associated with the American West, and maybe even a bit of early 1960’s ad copy.

I think if you want to be competitive in many small town places through the Mountain West, you pick a style that evokes the Big Sky country. Something that brings to mind the music that would go with this page in the new passport:

We are on a road to the future, winning the future. We are travelling there. To that Big Sky country. The Westward Expansion.

Along the way, we like to have someone pointing out which way to go. Something reassuring, when Americans can be less and less certain that the social contracts we came to expect will continue to be honored by some elements in our country.

It’s a great font, whatever name it is, and I hope the campaign uses more of it throughout 2011 and 2012.


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