CreativityEngaging CultureStrategy & Marketing

The Power (and Danger) of Iconography

While this short, 8 minute video from Pajamasmedia is tilted Right, it’s still a very interesting lesson in the power of images.  Watch it and then post your opinion:

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  1. Fascinating analysis that unfortunately loses its way toward the end.


    The initial perspective on the uses of Iconography and the branding of President Obama vis a vis the Democratic Party was insightful and informative: a useful perspective that really helps us learn to decode our world of images and sound-bites: bravo.


    However, the introduction of symbols used by Hitler and Stalin (the Swastika and the Hammer and Sickle, I don’t think Mao did icons) is egregious in light of the current serious, if ludicrous, comparisons we have seen from the anti-Obama, lunatic far-right. The author’s own stated understanding of the power of imagery and suggestion inform us that the horror of his comparison is not un-intentional, and I found it truly shameful. Of the powerful nationalist symbols to which he alludes, our enemies might suggest he add the American Flag. Are you offended now?


    But of course, we have seen political Icons before: Teddy Roosevelt’s signature specs and cigar, the outdoorsman; FDR, the first president to be known by his initials, also created a lot of initials in government as well, including the NRA, the TVA, the CCC… FDR, get it?


    The author really does make an excellent point about President Obama: he continues to use his own personal logo, rather than that of his office or his party, and perhaps for good reason: belief in political parties, and in the office of the President itself, are at an all time low, and President Obama’s supporters were energized by the things their candidate stood for, not the party he represented.


    The author’s warning to Obama is sound: that the Icon, or logo, and be turned against him, and that without the broader associations of party, and office, he may find himself standing alone against a powerful storm when things don’t go well.


    I am in an interesting position: a life-long Republican, and a Roman Catholic, I struggled with this past election, and voted for President Obama. The situation he inherited was dire: I did not expect that anyone, from any party, could have performed a miracle. But we are really talking about real issues: and that has to be good. We shall see.


    But is there a lesson for the mega-church implicit in this as well? An interesting point of discussion, I think. Are our churches filled with Icons, or mere logos?


    After all:


    Ἐν ἀρχῇ ἦν λόγος…

    “In the beginning was the ‘logos’…”



    Couldn’t resist…



  2. I disagree with pretty much everything Obama stands for.  They are dangerous, and clearly Biblical as just another indication of end-time events (wow that phrase is so overused, so I apologize).  And my agreement with the last commenter is that the author of the video is playing a dangerous game by even bringing up Stalin and Hitler.  However, Obama is the one who chose to associate his entire persona with an image, much in the same way that both Hitler and Stalin did–as the author so stated.  So, I do not believe he is comparing Obama with the former dictators, only pointing out the effects such imagery using past examples, even if they were examples of the worst kind.

    As a Youth Pastor and one who is concerned with the “branding” that past and present church leaders have left a legacy of, I find myself with a weak stomach.  I want to scream at the top of my lungs at those who have made such a mockery of Christ, by choosing to speak or operate “in His Name.”  What an embarrassing mess the church has made for itself with it’s branding, imagery, and lack of understanding of this concept.

    This video clearly illustrates the power of branding and marketing in ways that even the most basic of us can understand.  Please, please, let every church leader, member, and attendee, see this video and comprehend the importance of doing things in excellence and intelligence.

  3. That was a well made video. It was poignant and insightful. Obama did something in his election campaign that few people have, branded himself beyond belief. Everybody makes election kitsch (t-shirts, buttons, etc), Obama made good stuff. Shirts people wanted to wear. Stickers to put on everything and buttons and ads they could display all over their blogs. He has one of the smartest branding teams out there, unfortunately. 

    If only republicans would take similar cues…

  4. Another use of subtle and effective branding would be seen in Fred’s use of the term “lunatic far-right” which is used CONSTANTLY these days and NO ONE ever challenges. An incredibly insulting, divisive term, especially coming from Christians towards other people. Nothing shows Christ’s love like insulting half the population, right?

  5. As a conservative and a Christian, i found this whole thing really troubling.

    He lost me at ‘Hitler’.  The way he didn’t say it, but used statistics to point out that the situation was entirely different in a way that people are going to remember as “OBAMA iS A NAZI!”  The rest of the video had some great points about Obama, some great points about the Republican brand, and some really great points about branding in general.  

    This is why the Republican party is getting ripped apart by the media.  Right now if you go to, the top news diggs are about some Republican senator yelling out against the President while he addresses congress.  If you go down a bit farther, you can find reports on a Republican resigning from office after bragging about adultery.  If you go back a few months, we saw numerous Republican’s resigning for similar things.

    The Republican party doesn’t need to focus on its iconography right now, it needs to get its head out of the Democrat’s logo and focus on living out the message it keeps touting.

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