CIA Comes Out from the Shadows

Like most US governmental agencies, the CIA (Central Intelligence Agency) has an official seal—and a pretty clunky one at that—rather than a logo. It’s “identity,” because of the nature of its work, is intentionally not forthcoming. Secrets are its business.


The agency has now issued a new website that is intended to attract younger and more racially and culturally diverse employees. Here’s what you won’t see on the site: older white men, trench coats, spy cameras, and the old CIA seal. What you will see: young people of many colors; CIA top dog-training tips; a children’s section called “Spy Kids”; job postings complete with salaries; and advice on how to get hired (including a caution against following the agency and posting about it on social media, so stay chill).

The intention of the new look is understandable: it uses a visual language that young job candidates will recognize—very music festival and pop-up shop—but the optics are so very different that these same people are mocking the approach on social media. But once the newness wears off, the new look could be very effective.


First, it shows interested applicants to the door. Actually, it shows them that a door exists, no small feat for an organization that is necessarily dense and secretive. Second, it may inspire people into public service with such language as, “We are the Nation’s first line of defense,” and showing such a medley of people. Third, the timing of the new website’s release is spot on. Introducing it on the cusp of a new administration signals a time of change and new opportunities.

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