If there is anyone that learned the branding lesson imparted by the Obama ’08 Campaign, it was John McCain. During the Presidential race there was simply nothing the McCain identity could do to help his chances, especially not Optima, not even at its boldest. Not long after the loss, McCain announced in November of 2008 that he would be running for re-election to his Senate seat in 2010 for the state of Arizona. Earlier this year, McCain presented a new identity for this particular campaign, created by Phoenix-based OVO. What a difference one lost Presidential race makes.
“We crafted the entire brand to assist visually in developing a meaningful conversation between Senator McCain and the people of Arizona,” stated OVO principal partner, Ryan Durant. “During the presidential campaign, many didn’t feel as though the large-scale format emphasized the ‘town hall’ approach to politics for which McCain is so well known. The information architecture and design of the new Web site and brand identity provide for him a ‘virtual town hall’ so-to-speak.”
— Press Release
Apart from a new President, the Obama ’08 Campaign brought with it a new standard for political identity and we have slowly seen this shift happen with better crafted web sites and campaigns, even if some are mere copycats. McCain’s Senate race identity is a perfect example of the new standard and manages to offer a unique personality and execution, even while using the default elements of stars, stripes and the RWB (red, white and blue) color palette. The new icon, dubbed the “McCain Flag” is a lovely abstraction of the flag that is both gentle and strong with its swift curves and thick stripes. The typography is also an excellent choice by having a somewhat traditional serif but feeling substantially contemporary by the serifs being strongly slabbed. Even the deeper interpretations of red and blue help make this a sophisticated identity.
While the identity and printed materials manage to build on the new expectations of political campaigns, the web site is also a notch above the usual. Designed and art directed by OVO, with architecture development and additional design by another Arizona agency, Forty, the site is easy to browse, energetic and welcoming. Overall, this is an unexpectedly refreshing identity and hopefully we will continue to see political identity mature and become an interesting challenge for designers.