Is Government Graphic Design the Pinnacle of Persuasion?

Government graphic design gets ragged on a lot for being bland and uninspiring, so it was a bit of a surprise to page through Steven Heller and Mirko Ilić’s Stop, Think, Go, Do: How Typography and Graphic Design Influence Behavior and see them say that the idea behind the book comes from three design artifacts:

  1. The red octagonal stop sign, standardized in the United States in 1954
  2. The 1939 British civil defense poster “Keep Calm and Carry On”
  3. James Montgomery Flagg’s 1917 “I Want You” recruiting poste

All three of these are government products, albeit not recent ones. Is this just Sturgeon’s Law at work, or is there something else going on here?


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