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Marriage Bigot Branding Embraces Androgyny

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Because of the nature of my work I pay a lot of attention to branding, and while walking the exhibit floor at CPAC my eye was caught by a branding choice so odd that I have to comment on it.

In way of background, here is the traditional male symbol:

Here is the traditional female symbol:

Here is the usual symbol for traditional heterosexual marriage:

Here is the symbol for a male homosexual marriage:

Here is the symbol for a lesbian marriage:

This symbol would logically represent someone who is transgendered:

All makes sense so far, right? The conventions of this system are consistent and easy to understand.

Here is the symbol I encountered at CPAC on the booth of the National Organization for Marriage, a group which opposes any kind of same-sex marriage:

Based on the graphic conventions shown in the first examples, looking at the symbol being used by the National Organization for Marriage, I can only assume that they are advocating some sort of marriage between androgynous beings completely lacking in sexual identity – perhaps very regularly shaped amoebae or some other single celled organism, or perhaps they are proposing marriage without sex or gender roles, though that seems just as unlikely.

I assume they were trying to send some sort of message with their choice of symbols – maybe wedding rings or abstinence or something – but the only read I get off of it is marriage between beings whose genital areas are as smooth and featureless as circles – perhaps Barbie and Ken. It certainly suggests a driving fear of sexuality.

In addition, the decision to change the colors from the traditional pink and blue to red and blue has political connotations. They may have meant to show their patriotism, but to me it suggests a sexless marriage between Republican and Democrat androids – perhaps James Carville and Mary Matalin.

If they weren’t trying to promote androgyny, my best guess as to their reasoning is that they looked at the male symbol and its abstract resemblance to a penis and decided it was obscene – perhaps because their repressed and puritanical staff found it arousing. Or maybe they were offended by the resemblance of the female symbol to the traditional bishop’s orb and didn’t want to offend their evangelical members by alluding to the Whore of Babylon.

I can only imagine the dithering and mentally wearisome process which went into making this vital branding decision. As is often the case with the very worst decisions, I bet that an awful lot of effort went into it. As far as I’m concerned it was well worth it, because it reveals much more about their mindset than they ever intended, and whenever CPAC was getting me down I could stop by their booth for a cheery snicker.

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About Dave Nalle

Dave Nalle is Executive Director of the Texas Liberty Foundation, Chairman of the Center for Foreign and Defense Policy, South Central Regional Director for the Republican Liberty Caucus and an advisory board member at the Coalition to Reduce Spending. He was Texas State Director for the Gary Johnson Presidential campaign, an adviser to the Ted Cruz senatorial campaign, Communications Director for the Travis County Republican Party and National Chairman of the Republican Liberty Caucus. He has also consulted on many political campaigns, specializing in messaging. Before focusing on political activism, he owned or was a partner in several businesses in the publishing industry and taught college-level history for 20 years.
  • Glenn Contrarian

    Dave –

    Interesting article. In my own opinion I believe you thought about the branding issue a bit too deeply…but then I have to remind myself that you are the professional when it comes to these matters – you do it for a living. So instead of dismissing the finer points of your argument, I’ll shut up and listen since you know what you’re talking about and I don’t. And thanks for the short seminar in some of what goes into developing a professional logo.

  • lala

    Project much?

  • lala

    Perhaps your concept of an appropriate “symbol” for marriage being based only on sex is the problem. The intertwining of a male and female “symbol” usually represents the sex act, and you can combine your symbols however way you wish. I think it the symbols are a weird remnant of the Astrological sign-loving 70’s more than anything else. The double rings are symbolic of other things–eternity, etc. Not genitalia.

  • Zingzing

    Glenn, I think you missed a bit of the humor here, or at least didn’t acknowledge it.

    And Dave, as far as colored rings go in branding, I think you missed an opportunity to compare it with the Olympics’ similar motif of interlocking rings, designed to suggest inclusiveness, as opposed to this organization, which promotes the exclusivity of the word and “institution” of marriage as somehow belonging to heterosexuality.

    Lala, have you seen Dave? Not very androgynous… I shudder at the thought. I’m sure dave would as well.

  • Dave Nalle

    Zing, you have a point, but I was reluctant to take that line of analysis too far.

    Also, if I were to criticize it in a more professional way my objection would be to the ambiguity of the symbolism. Putting aside anything sexual, it’s just too generic to communicate anything powerful. Doesn’t stand out enough to provide an effective hook.

    Plus there’s the Audi logo and the Chanel logo which could be dragged into it as well.


  • Glenn Contrarian

    Y’know, there’s a joke somewhere here just waiting to be told about all the logos described and the obvious connection to “circular logic”.

    But then that would only take us back to where we started….