In case the similarities between the new Pepsi logo and Barack Obama’s campaign logo didn’t tip you off in 2008, presidents are, in fact, brands. They have reputations to live up to, loyalties to justify, equity to leverage, and product to sell. Although strategic consultants and creative agencies weren’t around to help brand the likes of Lincoln, a determined designer is now giving all of our bygone presidents an image reboot.
Meg Jannott was searching for a creative outlet to keep the lightbulbs in her head from burning out from client work. With the upcoming presidential election looming, she landed on the idea to “brand” all 44 U.S. presidents, making distinct looks from their individual traits and the eras they came from. With today’s addition of #24, William McKinley, she is halfway through her project Branding the Presidents of the United States.
“My inspiration for these is drawn primarily from whichever president I’m working on, Jannott says. “I start by researching the president and then I try to find out any of their traits or characteristics that I can exploit in the design and typography.”
In some instances, these traits are subtly woven into the look of the piece. With George Washington, for example, you can spot the small cherries in the flourishes of the G. In others, they are front and center, like Lincoln’s trademark stovepipe hat. Some of the images take the vintage, sepia look of Old Western photography; others have the look of a scientific etching. With their pristine logos, idiosyncratic fonts and framing, they all look like book covers to be.
However, the designer, like many of our presidents in question, is not immune from wanting to rewrite history. “Most times I’ll like the design but then I’ll look at it the next day and want to re-do it,” says Jannott. “I had no idea this would have gotten as popular as it has and now I’m finding that I want to go back and re-do some more than ever.”
Take a new look through some of America’s forefathers in the slideshow above.