CIA’s rebrand likened to that of a millennial pop-up shop
The Central Intelligence Agency has introduced a new logo and website that, according to some social media observers, could belong to a direct-to-consumer brand rather than a government institution.
The rebrand is meant to improve the spy agency’s image in the minds of talented, and more diverse, candidates by shedding its reputation as a club for white Ivy League men.
The new black-and-white circular logo depicts "CIA" and "Central Intelligence Agency" against an array of parallel and intertwined lines. The website proclaims “We are the Nation’s first line of defense,” alongside a rotating series of images of diverse individuals. It invites visitors to "Find your calling," provides multiple ways for candidates to get in touch and lists open jobs and starting salaries.
The agency is also promoting its new opportunities on social media with the hashtag #DiscoverCIA.
CIA Director Gina Haspel, who became the agency’s first female director in May 2018, tells the Associated Press that she hopes the new website will give potential recruits a sense of the “dynamic environment that awaits them here. We’ve come a long way since I applied by simply mailing a letter marked ‘CIA, Washington, D.C.,’” Haspel told the AP.
Since Haspel became CIA director, recruitment has become a key priority, and the CIA has started advertising on streaming services and launched an Instagram account, according to the AP. The agency’s first executive Hispanic engagement was assigned last year. The CIA still lags in its number of minority employees—26.5% compared to 37% in the federal workforce and 37.4% in the civilian workforce.
Many Twitter users, though, concluded that such an obvious appeal to younger and more diverse candidates is a little heavy-handed for such a storied organization.
Zachary Roif, creative director at advertising agency R/GA, compares the new design to that of an independent ad agency. “It's hysterical to think about these archaic institutions rebranding as a millennial DTC brand or ad agency,” says Roif. “It's a painfully common and trendy visual language they've chosen which is sort of the opposite of what you expect from a governmental institution.”
A long list of new-brand associations continues from there: An Urban Outfitters pop-up shop, a music festival, a techno party, a literary journal and the publication The Intercept. Is it too late to redact?