In a recent interview, President Barack Obama acknowledged his campaign symbol has probably been too “corporate” as it strikingly resembled the Pepsi brand. Also, his initial thought about the “Yes We Can” slogan was that it was too “simplistic”. Before his first presidential campaign, Obama had had doubts that the phrase would be successful at all.
The President made the remarks on Monday during an interview with David Axelrod. It is worth noting that Axelrod served as Obama’s chief strategist for both his presidential campaigns.
Obama also recalled in 2000, when he made his first appearance at a Democratic National Convention, people barely knew him. Four years later, DNC allowed him to deliver the keynote speech which marked a huge turning point for his political career.
Obama explained that he had nothing to do with the event. He attributed it to the “the randomness of politics”. He also thinks his rise to political fame has something to do with his decision to promote a “broader set of trends and […] traditions.”
However, he did credit his team for the success of both his presidential campaigns. He noted that his team came with “key components” of the campaign such as the ‘Yes We Can’ phrase. Yet at first, he was skeptic about the slogan for being “too simplistic”. Moreover, he hated the logo too, Axelrod noticed.
“The logo I thought was a loser. It looked like the Pepsi logo, and I thought, ‘That seems a little corporate to me,’”
the President said.
The Campaign Logo’s Creation
Axelrod noted that the campaign symbol, which was created by Sol Sender’s graphic design agency, became more iconic than the Apple’s logo in the meantime. Sender explained in an interview that he opted for a less traditional logo because Obama was breaking with tradition on so many levels. Usually, presidential candidates opt for a logo which features only the election year and their last name.
Sender acknowledged that his company had never worked for a political campaign before they designed the logo. He thinks that the novelty has been a huge benefit because his team could keep an open mind about the project. This led to a “fresh approach.” The graphic designer added that both he and his team preferred the current campaign symbol to other logos. They secretly wished that it would become Obama’s logo, but it was up to their clients to decide that.
Obama unveiled the logo in Feb. 2007 when he officially launched his first presidential bid. Experts believe that the sign is one of the most easily recognizable campaign symbols in this century’s election history. In 2012, Obama used the symbol again for a reelection.
The President first uttered the ‘Yes We Can’ phrase in January 2008 when he lost the primaries to Hillary Clinton in New Hampshire. Back then, he delivered a powerful 13-minute speech about the struggles Americans had to overcome against all odds.
He even went as far as to claim the Founding Fathers had the phrase in mind when they wrote the U.S.’ founding documents and so did immigrants fighting for a brighter future.
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