Branding the Government – Again

The American flag, purportedly designed by George Washington and sewn by Betsy Ross, was the government’s first brand. During the Depression-era 1930s the FDR administration launched the United States’ next major brand campaign. The Soviets and Nazis were not, in fact, more skilled than American branders. The short-lived NRA (National Recovery Act) was given a memorable logo (below, bottom), designed by Charles T. Coiner, who also branded the Civil Defense agency. This was the period of alphabets and initials. Among the most ubiquitous, designed by Clarence Hornung, the CCC (Civilian Conservation Corps), which put many young and older people to work developing and preserving wilderness areas throughout the nation.

Between 1933 and 1934 Hornung also designed logos for other agencies, providing unity, dignity and pride to significant bureaus of government.  A logo is not going to instill faith, but it does signify an overall intelligence at work. Here’s an instance where logo equals hope.

(For more on the CCC see tonight’s Nightly Daily Heller.)

Grain Futures Administration Reconstruction Finance Administration

Federal Coordinator of Transportation

NRA Membership Card


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4 thoughts on “Branding the Government – Again

  1. Andrew

    I am researching Clarence Horung’s graphic work during WWII. Can you suggest more resources? Thanks! I have his 1930 book Trademarks. It’s really a stunning book, but it predates the war and says little about the man himself.

  2. VBA

    Having collected  CCC ephemera and insignia for several decades, I was surprised and pleased to see the Hornung work featured in today’s Heller. However, while Roosevelt’s “Tree Army” was one of the most well known of New Deal organizations, the Hornung emblem didn’t share that recognition. The official and most prevalent emblems of the CCC were far more pedestrian.  Most common — appearing on everything from i.d. cards, certificates, and camp menus to the official cap insignia — was a circle containing a forest-lake-mountain scene with the slightly overlapping letters CCC in the sky of the backround. A band around the outside read “Civilian Conservation Corps,” just in case you had somehow missed what the abbreviation represented.  Nearly as common was a taller-than-wider triangle with a pine tree and “U.S. CCC” crammed into it. Hardly stuff of a brave new world of design, so thanks for airing something far fresher from the “nothing to fear” ’30s.

  3. Tyler

    Love these!  I can’t help but think of the endless “Spagehtti Junctions” in cities like Atlanta, or the (thankfully disappearing) Jug Handles and Traffic Circles of New Jersey, when I look at the Federal Coordinator of Transportation.  This blog is always inspiring.

  4. Tina Bagapor-O'Harrow

    Thanks again for helping me start my day creatively!
    The AD Store is currently rebranding a federal agency, The Consumer Product Safety Comission – it is just like rebranding a corporation, the only difference is the size of the committee does not belay the meagerness of the budget. Michael Schwab did a bunch of work for The Department of The Interior a while ago – it was never adopted, but is some of the most beautiful iconography I have ever seen. http://www.michaelschwab.com/ I don’t know if he has it posted, but he’s a great guy who I am sure, would share it if you asked. 

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