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Logo Design ... Pepsi and Obama

by Fred Showker

NOTE THIS When is a logo not a logo?

Well, it just about depends on who you ask. These days, almost everyone will tell you a logo is the trademark a company uses to identify itself. Others will say a symbol that represents something. Others will say it's got to be unique or it's not a logo. The old school designers will say, it's the symbol ONLY... that if it has type with it, it's a logotype. If it's just type, with no symbol, then perhaps it is a typograph.

Icon, pictogram, symbol, what ever name you prefer to call them, logos tend to stir up lots of conversation and emotion any time you mention the word in the company of graphic designers. Actually, these days it could be anyone! With the proliferation of logo software, logo collections, logo templates, logo fonts, and all kinds of quick and dirty logo sweat shops glutting the internet, just about everyone is a logo expert.

The recent logo trail, coupled with the presidential campaigns, has now prompted a multitude of logo discussions from Perth to Peoria. Everyone seems to want in on the act from the top graphic design sites on down to the mom-and-poppers -- including me. But seriously folks, my stake here today is to shed a little light on the Obama vs. Pepsi discussions raging all over the net, and to ask the simple question:
NOTE THIS "How long have they been putting stuff in circles?"

Actually I have to give credit to my good buddy Chuck Green. He first posted a reference to the debacle to his Twitter. Even though it had passed DTG radar some time ago, I sluffed if off as bush-league chatter. But hey, when Chudk posts it, there must be something there. Then, low and behold, Chuck was only chasing the latest article from John McWade, so now I knew it was getting close to the top. Ten thousand come-lately blogs were hammering away -- but some of the ivory tower sites were beginning to get in on the act.

What was interesting to me however, is just a few actually gave any historic validity to the fray -- so I have to ask:
NOTE THIS "How long have they been putting stuff in circles?"

Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe once wrote:
      "Everything has been thought of before, but the problem is to think of it again. "

Likewise, Audre Lorde spoke:
      "There are no new ideas. There are only new ways of making them felt."

Who designed it first?

Adam Kmiec recently wrote in his thekmiecs.com
      Is it me or does this new Pepsi logo look just like the Barack Obama campaign logo? Look, I'm not saying they are exactly the same, but c'mon they do look like very similar.

Then Stacy chimed in:
      Interesting... .OR does the Obama logo look like the old Pepsi logo?? Based on your CPG background, when do you think PepsiCo began working on this new logo? My guess is around 2 years ago.

followed by Tim who wrote:
      looks to me like a popeye grinning.

This seems to reinforce my earlier thought that there are just about as many opinions of logos as there are logos. You can turn to AdAge for the history of the Pepsi logo: HERE. And the blog chatter goes on and on...

matiason says:
      If you are blind, the NObama logo looks like the sun setting behind the American stipes, the pepsi logo looks like the old Pepsi logo stepping away from the ying yang symbol

Bardoon said:
      In the Obama logo, the sun is rising, not setting. A setting sun would signify the end, not the beginning. And whatever you feel about Obama and the team he's assembling, their logo is clearly meant to signify a new beginning.

The Bitter Wallet

Quoting Pepsi's New Logo Costs Hundreds of Millions to Avoid Obama Copyright by Vince VVong in the Bitter Wallet site:

Pepsi just rolled out new 2008 new logo their after five months of redesigning.
      If you thought the 35,000 spent by Norfolk Police on their new logo was bad, this new Pepsi logo will total a cost of hundreds of millions of dollars worldwide. Frank Cooper, Pepsi's VP said:
      The similarity was mostly 'accidental', but Pepsi's PR may have taken the similarity into consideration before deciding to do tilt the Pepsi logo and get rid of the lighting gradients. Bearing in mind, Pepsi was first, and there's very little link between Pepsi supporting Obama.

In Under Consideration's "Brand New" department the new Pepsi bottles brings some more input like this comment from Neven
      No one's going to notice the difference in logos. It's not just subtle; it's a silly idea. I'm having a hard time focusing on the labels since the bottles are so hideous. Why on earth would you bring back the aesthetic of crappy boomboxes of the early 90s? The labels are downright uninspired. There's not much else to say. Boring and pointless.

Yes We Can Steal The Pepsi Logo: Is Obama Guilty of Logo Design Theft?

LogoBlog author writes:

As some of you may have noticed, I have worked very hard to not bore you by repeating article topics. However, while rereading some of your comments I noticed something quite interesting. I'm not sure if everyone will see it or not, but I cant help but draw a connection between the new Pepsi logo, and the Obama logo which became so famous.

Which brought this comment from Mike who said
      What?!? Any logo in a circle using red white and blue and dividing those colors into three areas is a ripoff of the new pepsi logo? Have you lost your mind? That's a pretty flimsy premise ya got there.

So you see, everyone has an opinion. Just some have the same opinion.

The 'O' in Obama

Steven Heller noted graphic design expert and columnist for the New York Times took some time back in November to interview Sol Sender, the graphic designer contracted to create a logo for Barack Obama's presidential campaign. (Note they began the process in the Fall of 2006 to get a full year of campaigning under Obama's belt!)

Heller asks:
      Did you have any qualms about this symbol? Did you ever think it was too "branded" and "slick"?

Sol Sender reply:
      We didn't, though there were certainly instances where we sensed a need to be careful about its application. We never saw the candidate as being "branded," in the sense of having an identity superficially imposed on the campaign. The identity was for the campaign, not just for the candidate. And to the degree that the campaign spoke to millions of people, it may have become a symbol for something broader — some have termed it a movement, a symbol of hope.

Then Heller asks
      How many iterations did you go through before deciding on this "O"? Was it your first idea?

And the reply::
      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.


logo design NEXT PAGE: let's continue with a critique of the Pepsi Logo , page 2. . .


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