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.


Corbyn amended his logo a few weeks into the campaign: