Political branding: the Labour Party leadership logos 2015

Liz Kendall logo

Andy Burnham logo v1
Andy Burnham v1
Andy Burnham logo
Andy Burnham v2

Yvette Cooper logo

Jeremy Corbyn logo

The candidates for the Labour Party leadership campaign are now locked down and final.

As ever, I’m interested in the most seemingly trivial part of the battle: what their logos look like.

Getting your logo right isn’t going to win you the election, but it’s a useful thing to get right.  It’s a consciously developed identity that will exist across all the materials that are being designed to help your candidate win office.  It’s a useful visual short cut for the values and persona of the candidate that is comprised of colours, strap lines and design features.

When well-designed and implemented they create a consistent identity that helps build familiarity with an electorate which facilitates feelings of trust and loyalty.

A good logo is concise, differentiating from the competition and authentic to the candidate.

The first question that all the campaigns would have asked themselves is ‘what colours should we use in our logo?’  Or, more precisely, ‘which shade of red best encapsulates our candidate?’.  It may sound banal, but there’s a huge range of reds one can choose from and it’s very well accepted that peoples emotional responses to different colours varies hugely.

If your red is too bold it might seem aggressive; too light and it could feel weak; too dark and it could be perceived to be old-fashioned.  Jeremy Corbyn’s choice of a relatively gloomy red isn’t a good one.  His campaign’s main concern should be about being positioned as yesterday’s man: a stern left-wing candidate from a previous era.  His choice of red does nothing to prevent having such values ascribed to him.

The second question that the campaigns would have asked themselves is ‘do we want a strap-line with our logo?’.  A strap-line should summarise the candidate’s positioning in a few words.  Conveying that your candidate is ‘the outsider’, ‘the self-made man / woman’ or ‘the unifying choice’ in a concise phrase which doesn’t sound trite is very tricky.

A good way to start is to write a series of “why people should vote for me” statements, then delete any that other candidates could legitimately claim.  From there you will likely have a fairly short list which you can begin to craft into a few choice, motivating words.

I would say Yvette Cooper has slightly failed in this regard: which candidate wouldn’t sign up to “proud of our values, the strength to win”.

The third question that campaigns would have asked themselves is ‘do we want to try and fit an idea in the logo’?  When I say ‘idea in a logo’ I mean things like the ‘A to Z’ in the Amazon logo or the arrow formed in the negative space between the ‘E’ and the ‘x’ in the FedEx logo.  A piece of art direction that’s built into the logo which conveys something about the brand.  When done well, these logos are brilliant.  When done badly they are naff, vulgar and ridiculous.

Andy Burnham’s campaign’s first effort is an example of a logo which includes an idea.  Noting that the word ‘Labour’ has the letters ‘ab’ in the centre, the campaign tried to contrive a whole brand positioning around Andy being the ‘heart of Labour’.  Strategically, positioning Andy as the heart of Labour – when he’s faced accusations of being a bit of a ball of emotion on the NHS – didn’t seem like the smartest idea.  And on top that, the logo was a design disaster.  On the day of its launch the logo was lampooned on Twitter with many saying it looked like it was done on early version of MS paint.

To the campaign’s credit, they have quietly decommissioned the travesty of a logo and replaced it with one that’s almost identical to Liz Kendall’s.

Labour: nurse applications open May 8th


The Labour Party have released a new poster which promotes their policy to recruit 20,000 more nurses.

It features an image of thousands of nurse-style fob watches and a sub header announcing that applications for these new jobs will open the day after polling day, May 8th.

It also carries a new campaign strap line: “It’s time to care. It’s time for a Labour government”.

This is the first really strong poster from Labour of the 2015 general election. And it’s a positive one!

The message is clear, with an appropriate and original visual. And there’s a bit of levity in there with the suggestion around the application date.

The policy is a salient one with the public; it’s also right in Labour’s comfort zone as well as being an area where the Conservatives lack credibility.

And the strap line is brilliant. It’s a twist on the classic challenger ‘time for a change’ slogan. It neatly encapsulates everything that Miliband and Labour are standing for.

The interesting thing about this poster is that if it had been released earlier in the campaign there’s a chance the Conservatives would have attacked it for being an example of Labour’s profligate spending plans. However, as the Tories have made plenty of spending commitments throughout the short campaign, the accusation won’t hold water.

The Labour campaign is really picking up steam heading into the final couple of weeks of the contest.


Jo Brand stars in new Labour Party Election Broadcast

Comedian Jo Brand stars in the Labour Party’s latest election broadcast which puts the spotlight on the Conservative Party’s record on the NHS.

This is exactly what a party election broadcast should be.

1. It’s single-minded.

2. The language used by the talent feels vaguely authentic.

3. The delivery isn’t forced.

By keeping the production within the confines of a studio they’ve been able to invest the production money available into cameras and lighting, which means it has a high quality look and feel.

And in order to prevent the viewer getting bored of just seeing someone talking at them down the barrel, there’s a sort of ‘behind-the-scenes’ style which gives an excuse to cut away from the talent from time to time.

Very good.

Labour’s campaign seems to be picking up speed and confidence in the final straight.

The doctor can’t see you now


Every UK election one of the parties feels that it is necessary to reeappropriate some aspect of the 1978 ‘Labour isn’t working’ poster.

These various pastiches have never been remotely successful so why it is always deemed to be a good idea by party strategists is beyond me.

Labour isn’t working was a very good poster, 37 years ago. Perhaps if all the time and energy that Labour (and others) have spent making lame pastiches of it had gone into writing new ads we might have had more of its quality since.

UKIP launch election campaign with pledge poster


UKIP launched their general election 2015 today with a poster containing 5 pledges.

It’s fairly bland but the simplicity and clarity of the messages is very smart.

Political strategy requires sacrifice. Resisting the temptation to campaign on any issue that comes along is a major aspect of any successful party.

If UKIP can stick to the message discipline they’ve displayed on the opening day, I’m sure they’ll live up to promise.

Labour attack Tory promise of EU referendum in FT ad

The Labour Party have today run a full page advert in the Financial Times warning the business community of the threat a possible British exit would pose to jobs and the economy.

It features quotations of various business leaders and reminds readers that the EU is Britains largest export market.

It’s not the most creative execution in the world, but the use of testimonials from big wigs in the world of business to make the points was a good idea. It lands the key points and gives an air of non-partisan impartiality which gives the messages weight.

Don’t let the Tories hit you with VAT


The Labour have attacked the Tories on VAT in their latest poster.

George Osborne had repeatedly refused to rule out raising the tax, which seems to have led Labour to campaign on the issue.

The poster is a slight pastiche of the Tory’s ‘wrecking ball’ execution, which I assume is a deliberate if slightly opaque reference.

Surely the headline should have been “don’t let the Tories hit you with VAT” – am I right??

I’m right.