Did your mother teach you to behave like that? More and more Americans are asking themselves the same question about today’s political leaders, proving that civility in the political arena may take a candidate further than he or she thinks.
According to the second annual poll on Civility in America released today by Weber Shandwick and Powell Tate in partnership with KRC Research, most Americans believe that incivility is a rising problem in politics and will consider civility when they cast their votes next November. And while pop culture, media, and government often take the heat as being centers of misconduct, the study found that 80 percent of Americans – the largest majority found in the survey – consider political campaigns to be a hub of incivility. Further, the survey shows that this perceived lack of civility in campaigns may have far-reaching implications, with 91% of respondents saying that incivility has negative consequences for the nation.
Consider this study a warning for all political campaign strategists who plan to include name-calling to their candidate’s line of attack. With 90 percent of participants admitting that “the way the candidate treats and deals with people he or she disagrees with” and “the candidate’s tone or level of civility” will play an important role in determining their vote for president in 2012, it’s clear that candidates who personally attack their opponents risk losing voter support.
Jack Leslie, Chairman of Weber Shandwick, recognizes the dangers of incivility in politics, explaining, "While everyone has the right to engage in vigorous debate, this kind of rampant incivility undermines our political process. It turns people off, creating at best apathy and at worst antipathy toward elected leaders."
The results of the study show that mom’s golden rule may prove to secure victories for political hopefuls in the upcoming presidential and congressional elections. With respondents defining civility as “respect,” “treating others as you would want to be treated” and “interacting with others with politeness and patience even under difficult circumstances,” it is evident that Americans will be demanding a different kind of politics from our nation’s future political hopefuls.
As designers, my team commonly gets requests to create a “simple” logo design. Unfortunately, the process of designing a simple logo is not simple at all. Although there have been instances where the perfect solution to a branding challenge is arrived at with ease (Paula Scher’s Citi logo or Ray Lowey’s Exxon Logo—purportedly having origins as a pencil sketch on a napkin), more often than not, creating a “simple” logo takes exhaustive hours of research, thought, multiple iterations and rounds of refinement to develop a design solution. Logo design is, simply put, hard. There are endless factors to take into consideration, and when you add in the fact that there are often committees assigned to guide the creative process, it’s amazing that successful brand marks ever happen at all.
Despite the challenges, below are a few examples of simple and effective logos that undoubtedly took more time than anyone (other than a designer) could ever imagine.
Target’s red bull’s-eye logo has become iconic. The basic typography makes its absence almost unnoticed when the Target symbol appears alone, and the simplicity of the mark as a whole embodies the brand: Target is the sleek, stylish one-stop alternative to Wal-mart.
There’s deception in the ultra simplicity of the FedEx logotype. As most know, there is more to this logo than the words alone—the negative space formed between the E and x create a forward-pointing arrow. Genius! The design is bold and modern with a visual twist that has people taking notice of this thriving brand.
In 1950, the Department of Transportation, recognizing the need for a consistent set of symbols, hired AIGA to develop a clear, concise, and universally understood series of images to be used in airports and other transportation venues. These symbols are among the best examples of pared down yet powerful design. Developed over 60 years ago, these timeless and perfectly simple designs (which took multiple years to complete) are still universally used. With no words and minimalist shapes and lines, each of these icons speak volumes. All 50 symbols are available for free download at http://www.aiga.org/symbol-signs/
Obama ‘08 logo
Regardless of your political views, President Obama’s 2008 campaign logo was a winner. The centerpiece of the logo is a graphic element that evokes the letter “O” in the candidate’s name along with other elements reflective of the campaign’s themes of hope and change—a sun rising over a clear blue sky and a patriotic flag-draped landscape. This logo design was a critical component of the Obama brand that was masterfully created over the course of the presidential campaign.
What could be more elementary than a yellow outlined rectangle? Based on the original (and current) magazine design done in 1915, National Geographic’s logo captures the iconic and time-spanning visual element which has become synonymous with the brand. This logo is simple yet brilliant.
I love this logo as an example of a simple, straight forward design that is also smart and functional. Beyond the sleek image itself, the long-lasting success of this logo is due to the fact that its design reflects those qualities found in the products behind the brand. This logo still looks current, even though it has remained mostly unchanged since it was created in 1938. All of these logos, in fact, look simple. Most people could fairly easily recreate them. But they were created as part of a complex process that required a great deal of analysis and insight. If you want a clean, uncomplicated, thoughtful logo, it’s ok to say so. But if you want to be smart, stay away from the word simple.
David I. Leavitt
Flickr Creative Commons photo by birgerking.
By now you’ve seen the mind-boggling numbers: Facebook has over 500 million users in 190 countries, half of whom log into Facebook every day.
It seems like every time I look up the numbers, they’ve grown exponentially.
Facebook lost 6 million U.S. members last month, according to the Wall Street Journal. Facebook has always lost members, either when people quit or when the company deletes duplicate and fake accounts. But until now the high growth rate had masked it.
What happened? Have people in the United States finally stopped flocking to social networking sites?
No, that’s not it. In fact, Facebook’s Internet domination is just as intact as ever. More than 2.5 million websites use “Facebook Platforms,” meaning that people commonly engage with Facebook even when they’re not on Facebook’s website. And an average of 10,000 new websites integrate with Facebook Platforms every day.
What’s happening is that Facebook has reached a membership saturation point in the United States. As Slate’s Farhad Manjoo points out, this is common for Facebook once it hits 50 percent market penetration within a country. Manjo adds: “Facebook is now experiencing something unprecedented in the short history of social networking—it has captured every plausible user.”
Remember, a third of Americans don’t have broadband — there’s a large swath of our country for whom joining Facebook is more complicated than it sounds.
This situation isn’t likely to change radically, either. After all, more than half of Americans disagree with federal government efforts to expand broadband connections around the nation, saying those projects are not important, according to a Pew Center survey.
For now, Facebook must focus on entertaining the U.S. members they have rather than continuing to expand and grow their American user base.
In order for a nonprofit to stick around for more than 100 years, it must have the ability to adapt and re-invent itself from time to time.
The Boys and Girls Club of America (BGCA), an institution founded in the 1860s and known for supporting youth in communities all over the U.S., definitely has that knack for adaptation.
The 1990s saw the formal makeover of the “Boys Club” to the “Boys and Girls Club.” But the most recent transformation involves using technology, not only as part of their core mission to support and educate under-served youth, but as a means of communicating that new mission with their stakeholders.
Technology as part of the mission:
Recognizing that youth often need help acquiring computer skills, or simply access to computers, in order to succeed in school at even the earliest grades, they’ve left their “swim and gym” image behind to focus on providing vital computer skills that will be vital for success in high school, college and beyond.
It’s an important change in the organization’s focus, which seems to recognize and highlight the fact that while younger generations are often associated with being tech savvy, not all of them are actually born digital. BGCA is not the first organization to focus on digital skills, but as one of the largest and best recognized youth nonprofits, we might find other youth oriented organizations following their lead.
Technology as part of the communication:
With 4,000 chapters around the country, BGCA is an organization that is particularly well suited to benefit from social network campaigns that inform, unite and inspire its diverse audience. Their updated Facebook campaign, Faces of the Future, looks to engage their audience while encouraging them to support the Club Tech programs.
The result is an organization that has integrated technology into both its mission and its outreach — providing a powerful way to make a difference and connect with key donors and supporters.
Member-based advocacy groups are looking into a future where long standing membership dues may not be a successful way to support budgets.
In fact, a recent Monitor Institute study indicates that while many of these organizations believe their budgets will continue to grow and be fueled by foundations and member support, changes in how younger generations donate in a networked world could impact their overall business model.
Boomers often lend their support over the course of a lifetime, with annual gifts and long-term commitments leveraged using traditional techniques, such as direct mail. Millenials, on the other hand, tend to be more sporadic with their involvement and use social media to self-organize around event-specific activities.
This doesn’t mean that engaging Millenials in sustained support of political and social issues is a lost cause. The Monitor Institute’s study presents two case studies—MomsRising and the Environmental Defense Fund—as peer-recognized examples of member-based groups that effectively use social media to communicate with a wide audience and garner support. A takeaway from their efforts seems to be that organizations should find and test new models of engaging constituents and then accelerate those attempts. And while these two groups are member-based advocacy organizations, they’re engagement focus is not on finding members to advocate on behalf of the organization’s cause, but on creating space for people to participate in cause-based activities and thereby influence a given issue.
This may seem like a bit of semantics but it does have important implications for the nonprofit sector. If the reality is that foundations continue to be the largest source of philanthropic cash and demographic change necessitates the development of new engagement models, the Monitor Institute’s recommendation that funders support experiments in the use of social media should ring true. Some major funders, like our client, the Bank of America Foundation are already providing many of their grantees the flexibility to spend money on capacity building, which could include leveraging social media to grow members/participants. If other funders were to move in this direction perhaps a greater level of experimentation in the social media space could occur.
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