The Race for The White House (Logo)

Launching new visual identities or logos for anything big and important inevitably unleashes a tsunami of opinions, as seen with Uber, Airbnb, The Met Museum, and Google.

Recently, a very important organization updated their logo, but hardly a peep was uttered — The White House. The world is obsessed with figuring out who will live in The White House next year, but visually they’ve been flying under the radar. So why are we so interested?

Shortly after we opened our NYC office in 2009, our friends at the now acquired Cuban Council invited us to join a project that seemed almost unreal— the redesign of The White House logo. Yes, The White House. As newly American, we were both anxious and eager to prove ourselves when we got the chance to prepare The White House for the digital world.

So we started researching.

Here’s one of the first drawings of the White House — 1792 (from the White House Historical Association).

As our research continued, we were starting to understand the historic significance of this symbol. Here’s the $20 bill from 1928.

In 1998, the picture of The White House was changed to the north side view which has become the iconic symbol of The White House.

Ronald Reagan was the first to use the emblem of The White House, seen here during a press conference in 1988. The emblem has been updated a couple of times since then.

When the first online version of whitehouse.gov saw the light of day in 1994, it didn’t use the emblem or any other version of the logo. The first version of the current logo was made in 2003 and appeared online for the first time in 2007, when the Bush administration launched a major redesign and since then the logo has been on every version of the site including the 2009 version that launched when Barack Obama was inaugurated.

1994 and 2009 versions of whitehouse.gov

And this is where our journey starts back in 2009. The illustration of the White House on the blue background had become the official logo.

When we took a closer look at the logo back then, we were surprised to discover something had gone wrong — or maybe it was a secret Freemasons cypher — call Nicolas Cage!

Look closely!

We’ll do our best not to go all “illuminati” on you, but the real architectural element is an arch — now look at the logo again… Yes, it’s a pyramid.

Is it the same pyramid you see on the 1-dollar bill? HAND US OUR TINFOIL HATS and crank the Beyoncé and Jay-Z.

Let’s move on and take a closer look at the logo. A couple of things are clearly not the way they should be.

The logo is full of inconsistencies. Take a closer look at the alignment and number of back-columns.

We decided to clean it up and create 2 versions: a more streamlined version that kept the important details minus the triangle over the window, and a simplified version for digital use. We also optimized the kerning and tracking of the logotype.

Detailed logo version.
Simplified version of the logo for digital use and better scalability.

We then presented our findings and recommendations to the White House. A week later they told us that they would not be moving forward with the project. Obviously we were very bummed. And also a bit surprised to see that they kept the erroneous logo up the next 7 years.

Fast forward to April 2016. The White House has a new identity. All eyes of the world are always on the White House, but still we feel fairly confident that we might be the only ones that are looking this closely.

Behold the new logos: 1) a detailed version 2) a simplified baby version for digital use. But let’s investigate like it’s 2009 and take a close look. First of all, it’s much better than the previous version and the pyramid has been fixed! But the pyramids and arches above the windows on the right side of the house are now incorrect. Here’s a simple Photoshop fix.

The simplified “baby” logo below has the same mutation from the parent logo — the right side is wrong. They fixed the pyramid but made a new mistake. The pyramids and arches on the right side of the building should be horizontally flipped.

2016 b

We know, it’s easy to point fingers but the very attentive reader will notice that we did the exact same error when we suggested new logo versions to the White House back in 2009. Ready for conspiracy #2? Someone found our files from 2009 and corrected the old logo in 2016 without noticing the new error. If this is the case, Hello Monday has indirectly designed the new visual identity for the White House. And if that is true (we’re waiting for someone from the government to confirm), we can officially say that this is absolutely almost our career peak.

So Mr. or Mrs. Future President: If you want to make a change, the logo for your new house would be a great place to start.