Branding a Revolution
By Kaelen Wilson-Goldie

As crowds gathered in Martyrs’ Square in Beirut for the funeral of slain former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, all the old flags came out. One could catch sight of the tired Progressive Socialist Party logo (white graphics on a faded blue background), Pierre Gemayel’s mug flogging for the Kitaeb (his haggard face jutting out from a stylized cedar tree), and a glut of hastily spray-painted banners. Aside from the fractious political implications at play, from an aesthetic point of view, one could only scan the crowd, read the typology, and sigh: How seventies. The old flags looked as tattered as the history of Lebanon’s civil war itself.

That was on a Wednesday. By the time popular protests swarmed the same square to bring down the government the following Monday, visual strategies had changed dramatically. “Independence 05” banners—stark, hip, sleek and modern—flashed before the cameras, projecting a youthful, energetic image to a frenzied media eager to take it all in. The posh sophistication of these logos should come as no surprise. This is Beirut after all. But how did such a massive aesthetic overhaul happen so quickly?

Behind the scenes, a few members of Beirut’s bumping advertising community—creatives, if you will—had been exchanging phone calls among themselves and the opposition camp. They met to crank out a logo in less than two hours and boom, a revolution was branded.

The people who created the “Independence 05” logo work for two of Beirut’s leading ad agencies and one of its major production houses. None will disclose their names or affiliations, in large part because their firms do brisk business throughout the region, Syria included.

The chief designer of the logo, however, was happy to discuss aesthetic choices. “It’s a reminder of the first independence,” he says, in reference to Lebanon’s independence from France in 1943. “What we are trying to say is there is a new one and this time, this year, it’s no joke. It’s the second independence if you wish.”

The language? English and Arabic. The colors? Red, white, and a hint of green. “Like the flag,” he says, “plus the colors are good to freshen the image.” (Any media consultant will sell you on the success of red and white branding). “It’s designed in a trendy way, in expectation of a media situation. It has taste, has forwardness, has progressive feeling. The choice of typography—modern, clean, bold.” And the medium? “Everything—pins, stickers, posters, banners, wallpaper for your mobile phone.”

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