Developing Core Messaging
Before you can develop your campaign’s identity, you must know what you want it to communicate:
- Who is the intended audience?
- How do you want them to feel?
- What do you want them to do?
- Will the campaign use multiple languages?
For example, an electoral campaign, which will aim to win the votes of a broad electorate, will generally not have the same visual style as a labor strike action which seeks to mobilize workers into a confrontation with their bosses.
If there is one key lesson to remember when planning your visual identity — and in fact, your entire communications strategy — it’s this: imagine yourself as your intended audience encountering your campaign for the first time. Do you understand its purpose? Do you find it appealing? Does it make you want to take part?
Creating a Design Brief
Designers working for business clients to produce a brand identity will request a design brief to help them to understand the identity’s requirements. It’s unlikely that your campaign will complete a brief to this level of detail, but whether you want to complete it or simply to use it as an aid to thinking through your campaign’s design needs, here is a generic design brief template for campaigns.
Case Study: NYC DSA for Bernie
“I think the Electoral Working Group had already approved the ‘For the many, not the money’ copy, so we ran with that. We developed the brand as a team. What I found really useful was that we were able to take two different design approaches. We were able to hit a wider audience with that dual stylistic approach, while remaining unified through the palette, copy, and concepts. The team developed the color palette, and the use of softer colors (especially the cream) helped the campaign feel less brusque and more inviting.”
“We went pretty quickly for the rose in Bernie’s ear. Because this was a campaign for the general public, who can often see both Bernie and DSA as aggressive and unwelcoming, I wanted the image to be friendly, but strong; something to show off our optimism, charisma, and openness. This also gave us a door to talk about local candidates with a similar attitude.”
“The ‘For the many, not the money’ brush lettering design was later developed into materials for the ‘DSA For the Many’ campaign for NY State slate candidates.”
“I think what makes this — or the design elements of any campaign — successful is that it spoke to the needs of the field workers and organizers. We aimed for something that would help them better tell their story, with design elements that would be eye-catching and easy to use. Anytime my work can make someone else in DSA’s job easier, I’m happy.”