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In the Loop: The Intelligence Agency Where the Logo's the Thing

Dennis Blair, left, is the director of national intelligence. Leon Panetta, right, runs the CIA. No word on how either feels about the all-important "branding" and use of "edgy" colors at the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity.
Dennis Blair, left, is the director of national intelligence. Leon Panetta, right, runs the CIA. No word on how either feels about the all-important "branding" and use of "edgy" colors at the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity. (By Lawrence Jackson -- Associated Press)

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SOURCE: | The Washington Post - July 01, 2009
By Al Kamen
Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Seems Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair and CIA Director Leon Panetta haven't been seeing eye to eye of late on a number of minor matters -- such as who's in charge of the intelligence community.

The latest nasty dispute, as recounted recently by our colleague David Ignatius, was sparked by an effort by Blair, who's supposed to be in charge, to appoint non-CIA officers to run intelligence overseas. Panetta, needing to shore up his battered agency, protested to the White House. Apparently things got ugly.

But while there be strife at the top between the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and the CIA -- and within the CIA -- the DNI apparently has less internal turmoil. Maybe that's because it's much smaller and newer. Or maybe it's because, even from the agency's early days, attention was paid to detail.

Take, for example, the effort, starting in late 2007, to put together a neat logo for one DNI office, the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity, or IARPA. A contractor came up not only with a design but also with a meticulous 32-page instructional publication, the IARPA Brand Style Guide, to ensure everything worked smoothly and people knew how to use the new logo.

First, there's the concept of "branding," which "has long-term benefits," the guide explains. "A brand needs to ensure that its history is clearly documented and that the past cannot be challenged or undermined." (We have absolutely no idea what this means, but we trust Loop Fans understand it.)

"The brand for IARPA has been created to embody our mission and values," the introduction says, and so it "must be reproduced with care and precision."

We start with the logo, which includes an icon "created from each of the letter forms in the acronym IARPA."

"The letters in bright blue, a modern and slightly edgy color, express a cutting-edge tone and further stand out by sitting on a deep blue background. The orange dot of the 'i' is treated as an accent to express the sense of 'breaking out' of the box or norms." Then in exhortation, in blue, to "Be The Future."

Remember: "Use only the approved digital artwork files and never typeset, recreate or alter the icon or logo. The logo is the most visible expression of the brand; following these standards is crucial. Any change will cause inconsistencies, lessening the impact and compromising the brand." There's page after page of instructions on color tones, "logo misuses," templates and so on.

The guide is no longer in use -- in fact, the IARPA director has never seen it, we were told. And there have been changes to the logo. The one on the Web site -- which is actually very cool -- finds the "slightly edgy" blue has been changed to really edgy white. The orange dot remains, however, and the future is still blue.

So remember: The brand is the thing.

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