Will your brand win an election?
We know that getting branding right is an integral part of a company’s success, but what about political parties? In a field where image can be everything, branding shouldn’t be underestimated. The way parties and politicians present themselves and the perceptions of the public can determine election results.
This snap election, the parties haven’t had much time to put together their pledges and campaign materials. In the rush to the polls, it seems most of the parties are playing to their strengths, or rather playing down their weaknesses.
The Conservatives are going down the personality politics route, plastering Theresa May’s name on posters rather than party’s. The slogan “Theresa May: strong, stable leadership in the national interest” takes centre stage on posters and other campaign materials, with the party’s name and logo either placed at the bottom or out of the picture entirely. With Brexit looming and the country facing a fair amount of uncertainty, ‘strong’ and ‘stable’ are qualities welcome in a leader, and for many that leader is May. While personality politics is more of a campaign tactic seen in the US, the public opinion polls putting May miles ahead of Corbyn means the approach makes sense for this election. However, personality politics can be a risky move for parties as a leader’s brand becomes devalued later on.
Focus on the many
Labour has gone for the opposite approach choosing to brandish its campaign posters and merchandise with the party name, with most containing “Vote Labour”. While photos of Jeremy Corbyn are on some campaign materials, he isn’t being pushed in the same way as May as he’s trailing behind in public opinion polls. Many leaflets only feature local candidates, which MPs are calling a throwback to the traditional emphasis on the relationship between MPs and their local area that elects them. Labour’s also gotten more inventive with some of their materials such as printing leaflets in the shape and design of National Rail tickets - a clever way to show relatability. The slogan “For the many not the few” features across the campaign, showing Labour’s tactic is appealing to their left-leaning supporters who voted for the party in 2015. Though whether it’ll be enough for a majority this time around doesn’t seem promising.
Sticking to the past, changing the future
The Liberal Democrats have used an in-house design team for their campaign. Choosing to stick to their heritage, the party’s campaign materials are consistently covered in their colours black and yellow. The ‘bird of liberty’ logo - designed by Rodney Fitch in the 90s - features heavily and the diamond shaped posters stand out against the other parties’. The Lib Dems are also standing out with their Brexit-resistant stance, going for the slogan “change Britain’s future”. Branding the party as a choice for change is a classic position to take when fighting an incumbent party.
In need of a makeover
UKIP has also gone for heritage and consistency, keeping its purple and yellow colours across the campaign materials. The party is looking to rebrand, claiming a need to ‘modernise’, but with little time to prepare for the snap election any changes are more likely to happen towards the end of this year. In the meantime, their slogan “Britain Together” may be a sign of wanting to be seen as more inclusive and tolerant while maintaining their nationalist views. Whatever image UKIP is going for, whether the rebrand will change perceptions of the party will hinge on more than just a new logo.
Make our planet great again
The Green Party has gone for their usual green and white posters asking supporters to “Vote Green” and brandished their globe-sunflower logo prominently on most of their materials. But they’ve also been creative with some of their merchandise, getting tongue-in-cheek with umbrellas saying “Don’t blame me for the weather, I voted Green”. In contrast, some of the posters have slogans in all-capitals with bold fonts reflecting their strong, left-wing views. This versatility gives supporters a chance to engage with the campaign in various ways but it could also be limiting in the way it lets voters interpret and customise the brand individually.
Strong, stable leadership in Scotland’s interest
The Scottish National Party (SNP) sticks to its colour palette of yellow and black and features its logo across its materials. The logo is a combination of the Scottish flag and a thistle; however it’s nicknamed the ‘clootie’ logo due to its resemblance to clootie dumplings, a traditional Scottish pudding. So it even represents Scotland in its unintentional likeness. “Stronger for Scotland” is SNP’s slogan and their posters call for voters to “keep Scotland strong at Westminster.” They make it clear who they’re looking out for, while also maybe taking a swipe at the Conservatives.
Branding can connect politicians with the public just like it connects companies with consumers, and come election time when the need to engage voters is crucial, focusing on it won’t do a party any harm. Although predicting the results of referendums and elections hasn’t been easy lately, the power of a strong brand may just get you into power.