If good visual designs ever had an impact on how people see brands, than it’s probably fair to say that the same had a major impact on how the Leave Brexit campaign shaped up, and the result that followed.
How Brexit tapped into ‘visuals’ to win hearts
Fundamentally, designs and visuals work to create a strong emotional pull. If there ever was an example of a political campaign visually designed to stir emotion beyond imagination, no finer example comes to mind than Brexit.
Now, there are many reasons so as to why the Leave campaign secured more votes, but let’s examine some of the reasons related to design specifically and how it worked to their advantage.
Words to play with
When we use the term ‘design’ here, we’re referring to everything in the campaign – from the visual look and feel to the naming and language used within the visual context.
As irritating and nonsensical as it sounds, ‘Brexit’ ticks all the right boxes, really: a strong, short and easy-to-spell brand name that’s got a nice ‘mouthy’ feel. And you embrace it almost immediately like the name of a brisk and catchy new cereal.
The campaign name ‘Vote Leave’ is brutally simply in nature, if you think about it. It’s literally what you’re doing as soon as you have access to the ballot paper. And then you’ll casually put it in that box, just like they showed in the picture – so you’re doing, not thinking. Smart visuals indeed.
Vote Leave is also a very bitter and blunt message. It literally speaks to those disenfranchised from authority – you know, the kind of folks who are weary of their spouse but far too kind to tell them. Vote Leave pretty much taps into the sentiment that since you’re powerless, this is the last act of defiance at your disposal: don’t like it? Vote Leave!
Colour me red
The Vote Leave campaigners knew how to stir up a storm, and so they chose the colour of fire, blood and action: red.
Did ‘red’ also persuade Labour voters in the forgotten North – that they were on the right track by not voting right wing? No one really knows but one thing is for sure – 50% of the nation’s population had been seeing life through a red mist and Vote Leave resonated with them right away.
Whose side are you on, anyway?
Apart from the ever-present promise of total economic destruction, is there a single positive message that one might recall about the Remain camp? If anything, the Stronger In posters would remind you of hashtag contributions run by The Poke, hijacked and used ‘officially’.
In contrast, Vote Leave used a simple yet powerful hashtag: Vote Leave #TakeControl. Such active and empowering language standing out proudly and reassuringly against the red background.
It’s this kind of single-message communications with the right use of colours that play on people’s insecurities. They resonate effortlessly with the subconscious and outright establish an emotional connection with the target audience.
If you carefully examine all the designs and messaging of the Leave campaign, you’ll come across multiple images that would evoke memories of hardship and conflict. People relate to that instantly.
Compared to the previous general election, 2.8M more people voted to leave at Brexit. Vote Leave succeeded because it used the power of persuasion and urgency to establish an emotional connection through clever visuals.
The Brexit Leave campaign makes for a great case so as to why brands need to consider the power of visuals to stir up emotions beyond reason – and it’s something graphic designers can learn tremendously from.