Why the CIA just debuted new branding

The intelligence agency really said "new year, new look"

The Central Intelligence Agency kicked off the new year with new branding in hopes of diversifying its recruits. Also in this week’s issue:

  • How politicians used Facebook’s Georgia loophole to raise money for themselves

  • Vandals hit Pelosi and McConnell’s homes

  • The best masks of the first day of the 117th Congress


Why the CIA just debuted new branding

The CIA announced on January 1 that it had a “new look,” and on Monday, the agency went live with a redesigned website. This new CIA branding uses the Grilli Type typefaces America and Sectra. The color palette is black, white, and red, with line patterns reminiscent of a topographic map/Joy Division’s Unknown Pleasures album.

The rebrand is not a full overhaul of the intelligence agency’s visual identity. The above logo, for example, doesn’t replace the official CIA seal, designed in 1949 by the U.S. Army Heraldic Branch. The CIA is using a black-and-white version of the seal to match the rest of the website and its accompanying #DiscoverCIA rebrand campaign, though.

The rebrand is focused on recruiting. It’s not unlike how U.S. military branches like the Army and Air Force have both traditional seals and insignias used for formal occasions as well as more contemporary branding used in recruitment ads.

The rebrand is meant to diversify the agency’s new recruits, according to the AP. A 2019 report found that U.S. intelligence agency professionals were 61% male and only about 26% were minorities. In a statement, CIA Director Gina Haspel said she hopes the site communicates the “dynamic environment” that awaits future employees.

Online, people made their own CIA rebrand memes, compared the new look to an indie band or Urban Outfitters pop-up shop, and made jokes about the agency destabilizing small countries.

Grilli Type came out and said publicly they had no part in the redesign and that their fonts were licensed by the agency without their advanced knowledge. The CIA did not respond to a question about who designed the new website.

How politicians used Facebook’s Georgia loophole to raise money for themselves

Facebook banned political ads after the November election, but they made an exception for Georgia because of the state’s runoff Senate election being held today. That loophole led to a number of politicians running ads in Georgia to raise money for themselves.

Lawmakers including Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R-North Carolina) ran ads in the state that claimed they were raising money for Republicans to win in Georgia, but the fine print on their donation pages explained that the money actually went to their own campaigns, not Sens. Kelly Loeffler or David Perdue’s, the Daily Beast found.

Other politicians went with a split-fundraising approach, divvying up the money they raised with the Georgia candidates and their own campaigns, including Reps. Cathy McMorris Rogers (R-Washington) and Ashley Hinson (R-Iowa). Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-New York) raised money for her political action committee, but legally, the PAC would only have been able to donate $5,000 each to Democrats Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff’s campaigns.

In other Facebook political ad news, the Markup surveyed the Facebook feeds of 58 users in Georgia and found as soon as the social network allowed political ads in the state again, users’ feeds became more partisan, with less news from traditional outlets and more ads and partisan content. Here’s a look at how those feeds changed:

Vandals hit Pelosi and McConnell’s homes

After Senate Republicans blocked a vote to increase stimulus payments from $600 to $2,000 on Friday, vandals spray painted messages on the homes of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Speaker Nancy Pelosi over the weekend.

McConnell’s Louisville, Kentucky, home had “Weres [sic] My Money” spray painted on the door, while Pelosi’s San Francisco home had “$2K Cancel Rent!! We Want Everything!” spray painted on the garage. Fake blood and a pig’s head was also left in Pelosi’s driveway.


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The best masks of the first day of the 117th Congress

The first day of the new Congress looked a little different this year, with lawmakers wearing masks and Vice President Mike Pence holding small, socially distanced swearing-in ceremonies for Senators on Sunday.

While many members of the 117th Congress wore disposable masks, a few stepped up their game, including Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-New York), who showed up in what appeared to be a mask with a chain.

Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) wore a mask with her home state’s old tree-and-star flag (which is way better than Maine’s current flag, imho), while Rep. James McGovern (D-Massachusetts) made a statement with his “End Hunger Now!” mask. I loved the lips on Sen. Shelley Moore Capito’s (R-West Virginia) mask, while Sen. Roger Marshall (R-Kansas) wore a mask that looked like a quilt of stars and stripes. Wearing a mask is patriotic!

There were surprisingly few state flag masks, but Rep. Ashley Hinson (R-Iowa) repped her home state. Rep. Kaiali’i Kahele (D-Hawaii) wore a blue “Class of 2020” mask along with his leis, and Rep. Young Kim (R-California) had a gold mask that I thought was lovely and complimented her jacket.