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Two Logos for the Road to Recovery

Reviewed Mar. 4, 2009 by Armin

Industry / Government Tags /

ARRA and TIGER Logos, New

How the government spends its citizens hard-earned tax dollars has always been frustrating and unsatisfying, mostly because it’s only after the fact that one realizes what that money is being used for. With the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) — following the transparency mantra of the Obama administration — a brisk attempt is being made at continually disclaiming where, how and when those tax dollars are being used. Whether you approve of their use is another issue, of course. To make things even more evident to the public, two logos were unveiled yesterday, that will serve to brand all projects under the auspices of the ARRA.

Their design was coordinated by Chicago-based Mode — the same agency who contracted Sender to create the Obama ‘08 campaign logo — who this time turned to All-American designers Aaron Draplin in Portland, Oregon and Chris Glass in Dayton, Ohio. [Note to all designers: For your 2009 business plan, make sure you have a “Make Friends with Mode” item in it.] Also, at Mode’s web site you can see a nice picture and video of Obama presenting the logos.

Now to the logos. The ARRA emblem feels decidedly American, it might just be the stars and the blue, but it definitely has an American pride aura to it. The design is clean and simple and touches on three key aspects: America (of course), the environment, and the industry. The design of each element could probably be discussed ad nauseam and hundreds of alternative drawings could have been made, but as quick signifiers these work great. I’m not a fan of the rounded corners of the quadrants, but that’s just me. This logo probably looks kick-ass in all black too.

The logo for the U.S. Department of Transportation’s TIGER (Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery) program may feel a little corny, with its tiger stripes. But, let’s face it, sometimes it’s too tempting to forego the obvious and this logo creates a very identifiable visual. The thing I love about it is the combination of dark gray (or is it black?) that could stand for the asphalt that millions of people drive on each day throughout the U.S. and the orange that is emblematic of all the workers that are regularly out there working the roads. The type choice for TIGER is odd though: Kabel (slightly modified).

First because, well, who in the world uses Kabel? But second, it’s designed by Rudolf Koch, a German typeface designer; and while there is nothing inherently wrong about that, as designers it’s important to acknowledge the context of certain typefaces and consider whether their origins are relevant. Wouldn’t a typeface designed by the most prolific American type designers Morris Fuller Benton or Frederic W. Goudy have been more appropriate? To the public it doesn’t matter and in the bigger picture it hardly makes a difference, but when you are able to add a little more meaning to a logo, why not?

Type origins aside, the real success of these two logos will only be defined by how positively pervasive they become. If we encounter them regularly, we will feel good knowing that our dollars are being put to use; if it takes years before we can spot them, they won’t really matter.

Thanks to Snowflake Seven for first tip.



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