The importance of design for political campaigns

May 25, 2010

Everyone refers to the Obama campaign as benchmarks for so much in political campaigning, so forgive me while I do the same. Below is a video from the99percent, a think-tank in the US that has a series of talks, lectures or seminars that they video and put on the web. There’s a lot of really interesting stuff on their Vimeo channel, so check it out.

The video below is of Scott Thomas, the design director for the Obama campaign. It’s worth watching if you’re involved in a political campaign, because it underscores the importance of solid, quality design as part of the political, election process. Scott talks about how getting a consistent design across all communications channels was a major part of his role with his counter-part, the art director.

The design of the Obama campaign is widely considered to be excellent, and a real benchmark for political campaigns to aspire to. Scott talks about how much of it was done on the fly, but underpinning it all was the goal of consistency, so that emails, direct mail, leaflets, yard signs, stickers and so on were all the same.

Check out the video:

Scott Thomas: Designing the Obama Campaign from 99% on Vimeo.

(Aside: Yes We Can, the book I reviewed last week, was designed by Scott Thomas.)

The recent UK election is a good example of why design is important – good because it was of a high standard and because it is not the Obama campaign.

Both the Tory and the UK Labour designs were very visually distinctive. And with a geographically smaller electoral field, and with greater centralisation for the design key materials (e.g. billboards, posters, how to votes, etc), both Tories and Labour were able to have very consistent designs – consistency online and print.


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