Could an Obama Dollar Bill Help Rebrand the U.S.?

Dowling Duncan wants to renovate America's image abroad, by redesigning our money.
The Obama bill anchors their sweeping concept for redesigning U.S. banknotes, which also includes plastering a tepee on the five, the Bill of Rights on the 10, and FDR on the 100 -- each in its own technicolor hue. The impetus: The greenback has an image problem. It has come to represent everything that’s wrong with the American economy, and worse, with its cartoonish graphics and vaguely sinister styling, it actually looks the partDowling Duncan’s scheme, though purely hypothetical (it’s an entry in the The Dollar ReDe$ign Project competition) is about imbuing U.S. currency with sunny new meaning. Their bills are designed to be educational, intuitive, and, to put it plainly, make America feel like it sucks a little bit less.

Part of their idea is just making U.S. banknotes easier to handle. To that end, each bill has its own color for simple identification. They also come in different lengths -- the dollar’s the shortest and the hundred’s the longest (see up top) -- so that when you stack your bills, you can instantly eyeball how much you’ve got. Varying the size is especially useful to help blind people distinguish between notes.

Perhaps most dramatically, the bills are arranged lengthwise. Dowling Duncan say they conducted extensive research on how people deal money and discovered that transactions are almost always carried out vertically. It's true: How often do you hand someone a bill clutching the center widthwise? How many money machines accept cash horizontally? The new orientation would obviously take some getting used to, but in Dowling Duncan’s view, it’s ultimately more instinctual.

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