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Barack Obama built a cohesive, distinct brand through his inspired use of promotional products.

Barack Obama waged one of the most successful presidential campaigns ever by focusing on social networking and promotional marketing techniques. He created a distinctive “Brand Obama” that focused on a consistent message of change, unity, and hope. Promotional products were a vital part of his marketing techniques because they were the vehicle that promoted Brand Obama and built a united network of supporters.

Here are some ways Obama successfully used promotional products in his campaign:

He Offered a Wide Variety of Crowd-Pleasing Products
The Obama campaign used all types of promotional products. The official Obama Store offered umbrellas, yard signs, stickers, jewelry, pins, t-shirts, water bottles, cardigans, tank tops, blouses,and hats. All items were union-made in the USA. There was a product for every Obama supporter, whether they were looking for something practical or fun! The Obama Brand promotional products were both classy and trendy. The Obama logo could be found on every type of apparel, from oversized hip hop style t-shirts to embroidered polo shirts. This signified the diversity of his supporters and showed how important promotional products can be in emphasizing a clear message. Barack Obama showed that promotional products are more than the typical pins and t-shirts—they can be artistic, hip, or bejeweled!

He Used an Imaginative Logo
Barack Obama created a distinctive logo that was easily molded to fit different themes. The logo was a basic "O" that featured beams of light projecting over land. The fonts were clear, modern, and consistent. Derivatives of this logo were created to fit different audiences. For instance, the field was changed into a rainbow for “Obama Pride,” the logo was morphed into an elephant for “Republicans for Obama,” the "O" resembled a pie chart for “Small Businesses for Obama,” and the logo was manipulated to create a female symbol for “Women for Obama.” This worked because even though the logo changed from its original form, it was still easily distinguishable. Mugs, pins, bumper stickers, and t-shirts were printed with variations of these logos to appeal to many different groups. This strategy was brilliant because Obama's message stayed true to its core values while appealing to a variety of people.

He Broadcasted Consistent Messages
Promotional products featured key messages of Barack Obama’s campaign: “Hope,” “Change,” “Change You Can Believe In,” and “Stand for Change.” The messages were consistent. Over time, people linked the words to the brand, and this only served to bolster Brand Obama. As a result of these savvy marketing efforts, “change” became associated with the presidential nominee and helped create a cohesive campaign that was focused on these key topics. Promotional products reinforced Obama’s message and his pervasive brand like nothing else!

He Was Open to Artistic Approaches
The Obama campaign did not rely on overused or hokey promotional products to pass the message. Instead, they recruited top designers and artists to create memorable promotional products of high quality. "Runway to Change" featured clothing designed by the likes of Beyonce and Tina Knowles, Jay-Z, Vera Wang, Russell Simmons, Marc Jacobs, Isaac Mizrahi, Diane Von Furstenberg, and Narciso Rodriguez, along with many other designers and musicians. Obama promotional products quickly became hip, fashionable, and designer-worthy!

To help raise money, "Artists for Obama" featured art and merchandise donated by artists. Much of the art featured poster-sized images of the presidential nominee with the words “change, “vote,” and the incredibly popular “yes we can.” Some posters even featured excerpts from Obama’s speeches! To millions, Obama became synonymous with hope and symbolized a better America. These artist renderings created a mission out of the man. At that point, he was no longer a simple presidential nominee—he was regarded as an immortalized and distinguished icon.

Article By Jill Tooley
Jill Tooley

Jill has been obsessed with words since her fingers could turn the pages of a book. She’s a hopeless bibliophile who recently purchased a Kindle after almost 6 years of radical opposition, and she loves stumbling upon new music on Pandora. Random interests include (but are not limited to) bookstores, movie memorabilia, and adorable rodents. In addition to managing the QLP blog, Jill also manages the content development team, assists with the company’s social media accounts, and writes like a fiend whenever given the chance. You can connect with Jill on Google+.

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