A lesson in digital communications: The Brexit Party and Change UK – The Independent Group
The upcoming European elections taking place on 23 May 2019 are likely to have a seismic impact on the future of the Brexit process. At the time of writing the two recently formed parties, Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party and Change UK – The Independent Group are at opposite ends of the expectation spectrum based on the opinion polls that have been released in recent weeks.
According to YouGov, the Brexit Party are polling at 32%, a similar figure to both the Labour Party and the Conservative Party combined. In contrast, Change UK – The Independent Group, a group of MPs that broke away from Labour and Conservative Party to fight for the Remain cause, are polling at a meagre 5%.
There are many reasons for this discrepancy not limited to what I discuss below; Change UK members’ various gaffes in the media, the re-emergence of Nigel Farage, and the inability for Remain parties to consolidate and form alliances are to name just a few. However, in this article I will look exclusively at the branding, design and messaging of the two parties, and why the issue of clear and effective communication is crucial for any campaign.
Firstly, let’s look at the name. This is something most traditional parties understand very well. The names Conservative, Labour, Green, much like the Brexit Party, illustrate their message in one easy to digest slogan or acronym. Change UK – The Independent Group on the other hand, is a bit of a mouthful, and even with all those words combined, it’s still not entirely clear what they actually stand for.
This is mirrored by the Party’s colour (or lack thereof). The Brexit Party’s sky blue colour scheme is by no means a political masterstroke, but at the very least it isn’t an uninspiring mix of black, white and grey, illustrated here as Chris Leslie delivers what looks like a eulogy to Change UK’s own campaign.
Next up, the issue of the logo. A piece in Dezeen outlined just why the Brexit Party’s insignia is both simple yet extremely intelligent. The arrow points to the ballot box accompanied by the word BREXIT in capital letters. If you look closely you can also see the arrow has a dash on the left hand side and the arrow could, perhaps, be mistaken for house that has been blown over by a storm, which could well be an unintentional metaphor for the UK economy, post-Brexit. Not too sure on that one, though.
Change UK’s logo on the other hand is bland and again, unclear. Consisting of a few black lines with no background, the emblem has been compared to a Tesco bag, as well as a redacted version of the Mueller report. This is because their previous design was rejected by the Electoral Commission, meaning this poor excuse for a logo was constructed on an MP’s laptop the night before being revealed to the world. That being said, their initial proposed logo was far from inspired either.
Finally, the social media and digital output from the two groups could not be any different. The Brexit Party’s clean, vibrant and professional look, which has clearly been cultivated by a well-oiled and experienced campaign team compares very favourably to the rather shoddy quality of Change UK’s digital content. The untrained eye can spot the disparity without much direction.
Whilst these differences may seem small, they really do add up, especially on an online platform such as Twitter where these images and videos will gain hundreds and thousands of impressions.
And it reflects on the parties more widely. Whilst the Brexit Party go from strength to strength, Change UK is stumbling towards election finish line, with their top candidate in Scotland David Macdonald recently defecting late on to the Liberal Democrats, and one of its key characters channelling her inner David Brent with a cringe-inducing “it’s in your hands” moment.
Again, there are a multitude of reasons for the downward spiral of Change UK which are not limited to this lacklustre election campaign. However, if Change UK really do aspire to become a force in British politics beyond the European elections as they say they do, they would do well to observe what the Brexit Party has done since its formation and, at the very least, it had better hire a graphic designer for next time.