A successful brand that enjoys controversy, has a passionate, growing customer-base and is in need of an update – could re-branding Ukip be the perfect brief? asks creative director Simon Moore
We are a successful organisation with a loyal and expanding customer-base. Passionate in our beliefs, we enjoy controversy, have nationwide exposure and are firmly anti-establishment.
We are looking to find a creative partner to re-brand and re-work our entire, currently dated, creative output across all channels including print, digital and TV to prepare for future growth.
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If I was asked to put together the perfect creative brief, it probably wouldn’t be too different from this. I’ve worked on projects that hit a few of these points, but to get all of them in one go would be a dream. Or would it?
It struck me recently that potentially there is a brief such as this just waiting to be tackled: Re-branding Ukip.
I can’t claim to have seen everything they’ve produced, but what I have is pretty poor. From the logo that looks like it was done by someone who’d spent 20 years watching an endlessly looping Roy Chubby Brown VHS, then forced to design a logo on a 1996 Viglen PC, to the error-strewn, visions of typographic hell that constitute their promotional literature.
Admittedly there’s an idea to that horrible logo that’s easy to understand, and in isolation some of what they do isn’t the absolute worst I’ve ever seen. However, the consistency is almost nonexistent and entirely symptomatic of an organisation that’s grown quickly without an overall creative strategy.
But, for an organisation such as Ukip that seems to pride itself on rough edges and a Luddite rejection of anything vaguely progressive or contemporary, could it be that design as appalling as this is actually the perfect solution? Or, can this backward, anti-modern ethos be reconciled with a professional creative makeover?
Firstly, to conduct this debate, we need to place the ethics of a project such as this to one side. Specifically, working for an organisation to which you’re fundamentally opposed (obviously I’m making the assumption here that the readers of Creative Review are as likely to vote Ukip as they would be to own a pair of Crocs).
But really, the role of ethics in design has been discussed many times before, and expertly within these very pages.
Here though I’m primarily interested in the question of whether there’s a place for ‘bad’ design, and if you’re an organisation such as Ukip, whether there’s any need to change what you do.
I guess the key aspect to consider is the “customer”. However, without access to Ukip’s supporter profile it’s impossible to know whether the purple-clad, strangely-coiffeured, Clarkson-idolising nut-jobs, so often shown to us by the media, really do make up the entirety of their support or not.
If that does turn out to be the case, it’s possible to at least make a case for their being no need to improve upon the aesthetically-bereft junk currently being spewed out. But, really this feels a bit like a convenient caricature. Ukip is currently polling at around 15%. And if you bear in mind that pollsters believe many people are actually too embarrassed to admit their support for the party to another human being I think it’s safe to assume their appeal goes wider than this rather lazy stereotype (which, of course, I’ve also just used).
Part of their appeal so far has been to tap into the disaffected “modern life is rubbish” standpoint of the curmudgeonly Little Englander: the sort of person who’s outraged that the second most popular language in England is Polish (and not English again presumably).
So it’s just possible that by reaching out for a new audience, and giving themselves a contemporary sheen, they could actually end up alienating their core support.
For creatives, politics should be a great area in which to work, but at the moment, with the politician / voter relationship being so fraught that most parties seem too afraid to try anything different for fear of upsetting or alienating anyone whatsoever, it feels like we’ll be faced with a neutered, timid, blandscape for the foreseeable future.
Given this sterile environment, the chance to work with a client that isn’t afraid to say what it thinks and put forward an actual sense of personality should, in theory, be a godsend. Their messaging feels like it was written by their people for their people and has a whiff of grumpy, corduroy rebellion to it. If this could be harnessed to a pleasing and consistent visual style, they could be on to something.
To be honest, I wouldn’t pretend to have the expertise or foresight to know whether a re-brand for Ukip would do them any good. But to lay my cards on the table: I don’t care who it’s for, bad design upsets and angers me.
I think the more exposure basic, ill-considered rubbish gets, whatever the client, the more it pollutes our world, getting further absorbed and legitimised with every dreadful flyer, website and poster.
Just because I don’t approve of Ukip’s policies, doesn’t mean I should be pleased their design is shit. It just feels like confirmation of, and validation for, the notion that creativity is something to be suspicious of and fundamentally lacking in value.
Ethics aside, I think I would like to see Ukip given a makeover – if for no other reason than to see the deluge of alternative logo designs that would spring forth from witty, satirical creatives. But I do wonder whether they will in fact shun such poncey creative nonsense and remain forever mired in their currently hellish vision of Britain, where typographic consistency is as valued as a Romanian builder and purple and yellow are an acceptable colour combination.
Simon Moore is creative director of creative studio Baby