When Tampa, Fla., branding agency Spark conjured up a brand concept on spec for Gary Johnson back in June, it never intended for the Libertarian presidential candidate's campaign to actually employ it. Turns out, according to the agency, the campaign did just that, using a very similar color scheme and design elements without permission, and without implementing the thorough "brand system" devised by the agency.
In fact, the Johnson camp is still using a distinctive color scheme, design composition and similar font on its website home page, Twitter and Facebook pages and elsewhere, all of which unmistakably mirror ideas originated with Spark -- but didn't live up to the design standards Spark itself employed.
After seeing how the Johnson campaign implemented its brand system, Spark wanted it to do a better job. So the agency published editable files and a downloadable font on HelloGaryJohnson.com, a website that also features a video with a notably diplomatic message to the Johnson campaign:
"When you swiped our campaign we were happy to see that you agreed with us," states the narrator in the video, seen above. "In the spirit of creating a great brand, we thought it only fair to provide you with the tools to execute it on a deeper level."
Spark execs spoke with the Johnson campaign on August 6. According to Spark, the campaign representative apologized and said he and other staff were not aware the work had been stolen. Because Spark is not interested in pursuing political clients, the conversation didn't go far. Elliott Bedinghaus, VP-creative at Spark, does not blame the candidate, who likely was unaware of the situation. "The reality is that he had no idea what was going on," he said.
Read the full story and see images of Johnson's campaign branding on Adage.com.