Tag Archives: Communications

Holes In Labour’s Communications Strategy

I saw today that the Labour Party have given their website a new look. On the same day, the party launched their pledge card for the next election. I can’t help but feel that both the website and the pledge card are rough around the edges, lacking an attention to detail sorely missing since the acclaimed “New Labour” days. There are a few things that have slipped under the radar, and Labour’s message suffers for that.

Let’s start with the website. To be honest, the Labour Party always seem to be updating their website, but it never seems to get very much better. With the latest refresh, they have at least got their message and logo right at the top, with a Labour logo and the “future fair for all” banner, along with a logo to go with it. There are two problems with the “future fair for all” banner though. Firstly, the “future fair for all” logo looks, in some versions, like a railway bridge. On the main website, it looks like a setting sun. You know, as in, a sunset. OK, so some people may say it’s meant to be a sunrise, but still, did no-one in the Labour Party see the massive own goal they’re letting themselves in for there?

Three more things on the website. Firstly, the actual slogan, “a future fair for all”. I don’t like it, and I’ll tell you why. It’s not directional. It’s ideational. It’s not practical. It’s ideological – to an extent – but it doesn’t go beyond saying “wouldn’t it be nice if the world was fairer”. It would carry more impact with a subtle change to something like “building a fairer future for all”, as that carries the idea that it is something that requires action to achieve. It gives an impression of purpose and direction. It’s more promising and positive, rather than wishful, which is more how “a future fair for all” comes across.

Secondly, there is a section entitled “Back the Ban”. For most Labour-minded people, backing the ban on fox hunting with hounds is like having a shower when you get up. Decent people do it. Personally, I couldn’t care less about a pesky fox that tears apart farmers’ chickens, and would gladly carry out the equivalent of a Canadian seal hunt given the chance. Still, that’s for another day. The point is, on the website – the Labour Party website – it says, “the next parliament may see legislation introduced which specifically allows foxes to be ripped apart at the teeth of hounds. Will you join us in fighting this barbarity?”. Now I should say, the statement is correct. My response is “no”. But the point is this: Labour are basically saying, on their website, “we might lose”. It is a negative statement, instigated from a negative mindset. It contributes to a mindset that says Labour will lose, best to operate an opposition mindset. This is not the right way of doing things. Instead, Labour, as the governing party, should use that initiative. Turn it on the Tories. It should say, “The Tories want to legislate to allow hounds to rip foxes apart. Help us to fight this barbarity”. This asserts power in a way an opposition mindset isn’t able to do.

Thirdly, why on earth is there a big blue bar going across the website, which, when selected, turns all the words yellow? #FAIL! I see blue, I think of Tories. I see yellow, I think of Lib Dems. I see a bolder yellow, I think of the SNP. The blue shouldn’t be blue, it should be red. And the yellow – well, it’s not so much an issue then, actually. But you don’t go scoring own goals like that. Whoever is in charge of the web team at Labour HQ needs to raise their game and think of brand image a little more.

That said, whoever was in charge of the pledge card should be in even more trouble. have you seen it?

What, at first look, does that look like? OK, forget whether it’s a sunrise or a sunset, what does it look like past that? Does it remind you of old Corn Flakes adverts? or Muesli boxes? I half-expect to see a rooster with a bowl of breakfast cereal, with skimmed milk pouring down the screen – and then there’s the logo on the right, at the top. See what I mean about the railway bridge? It looks strange, adding nothing to the message. Some people will also say that the writing is hard to read, which it is on a screen, but in print, it won’t pose a problem.

There are two main problems with the background image. Firstly, it’s not a great image. It is full of glare and looks like it was taken by an amateur. It is doubtless a stock photo from a website specialising in those kinds of photos, but there is no vibrancy to the colour, no clarity. It looks a little washed out, tired even. It seems to symbolise the ageing days of a condemned administration – not the kind of image you want to give off when you stand accused of being just that! Secondly, the image adds nothing to the message. It is a wasted image. The picture is what people will see first – before the writing – and so it needs to draw people in. It doesn’t. It would be much better to use an image that can back up one of the pledges. Here’s something I knocked up:

Now before I get slated for a sloppy effort, I should say I spent no more than half an hour on this, and it only took that long because I was working in GIMP, which is an image editor and little more. It isn’t designed for content creation, which is what I was really doing here. I would normally use CorelDraw for this sort of effort, but I don’t have it at home, sadly. Anyway, The Labour logo is now in red – corporate colours (and by the way, Labour Party people, your available logos for people to use in publicity through your website is absolutely abysmal and had got progressively worse over the last few years) – with a very simple mask to make it easy to see amongst the background.

On the right are the pledges – slightly modified, if you look closely. For example, “securing the recovery” has always sounded very awkward, why not refer to “strong economic recovery”? It sums up the aim in a much more positive light. Why only raise family living standards? I am a single man, and I’ve just been alienated there. Talk of general living standards, and of families within that.

The last pledge did say “strengthen fairness in communities”. Now I know Gordon Brown is a fan of this fairness, but actually, if you strengthen communities, they should be fairer too. And besides, how do you define “fairness”? It’s a throwaway term. Useless. For every one way you show fairness to have improved, you’ll find then people to show you where it got worse, but it is easy to show that you have strengthened communities, as long as you have.

Now look at the background. I’ll grant you, it’s not the best, but I’ve actually nicked it from other Labour Party material. It’s the best I could find in limited time. It’s a man, and he’s working. Thus, it links in with economic recovery, but also, potentially, with the high tech economy. It would be great to see a pledge card engaging with the high tech economy pledge. I have, as you can see, taken out the “future fair for all” logo. It had no value.

So there you go, a (not so quick) run-down of Labour’s pledge cards and new website. Verdict: must do better. Labour Party HQ, please feel free to contact me to discuss further. And would you believe it, just before I go to publish, a Labour Pledge spoof website has been launched! Have fun!

Think I’m the only one thinking this? Check out Beau Bo D’Or, who has it right on the money!