The Brexit Party: political movement or ad campaign?
The results of the European elections are in and, as predicted, The Brexit Party cleaned up – which you will either cheer or be horrified by depending on your political persuasion.
But what is fascinating about this whole situation is how The Brexit Party have used basic marketing and advertising principles to devastating effect, where other political parties seemingly pay minimal attention to their logo or visual identity (looking at you Greens!), or don’t make their messaging or basic proposition clear to the public (now looking at you Labour!).
The Brexit Party was formed in November 2018 and is a private limited company with no members (with the owners of its shares being undisclosed), a limited number of MPs and no policies or manifesto – beyond the aim for the UK to exit the EU and use WTO trade terms until new trade deals are established with the rest of the world.
And yet, following the elections last week, they became the largest British party in that parliament and largest single European party overall.
All of this was achieved through PR and advertising.
Knowing your audience
There is a big proportion of the voting public who feel frustrated and angered by the fact that the UK has not exited the EU yet. And, whether you agree with that viewpoint or not, The Brexit Party directly taps into those people who feel let down by both the present government and the opposition.
The Brexit Party, with its simple mission statement, offers a black-and-white solution and a simple choice for those frustrated voters. In short, Farage and co. know exactly who their audience are and how to tap into those feelings of anger and disappointment.
During the voting period, there was a lot of press about how The Brexit Party logo seemed to have been designed on purpose to subliminally encourage people to put an X in their box, simply because their logo was pointing to it.
Graphic designer Ben Terrett was one of the first to highlight this on his Instagram feed:
While I wouldn’t applaud this behaviour, and it’s hard to understand how it got past the Electoral Commission, it also does make you wonder why the other parties don’t pay more attention to their visual identity.
Talk about simple. ‘The Brexit Party’ – does what it says on the tin doesn’t it?
While the name – like their mission statement – could be dismissed as overly simplistic, it works because it totally communicates who and what they are.
I think of it a little bit like ‘The Empire’ in the original Star Wars trilogy. Those guys are clearly the bad guys with a name like that. Every time you hear their name you think, ‘oh shit, they sound like bad news’.
Compare them to the name of the villain in the prequel film The Phantom Menace: ‘The Trade Federation’ – scary right?!
So there is something to be said for keeping things simple, and it’d be hard to think of a more on-the-nose name for a political party than The Brexit Party.
Much has been made of the fact that the party doesn’t have a manifesto yet, and the general outrage of how that could even be possible.
But it is the simplicity of their proposition that is their greatest success.
Firstly, because they don’t have the other ideological baggage that the other parties carry. And secondly, because they are very clear and sure in their approach to Brexit, when both the Conservatives and Labour are anything but clear.
So, in marketing terms, they have a very clear USP that makes it easier for voters to choose to go for them, whereas most (but not all) of the other parties make it harder to make that choice because there is too much the voter has to understand, too much nuance. The Brexit Party made the choice a total no-brainer for those who were already leaning this way.
So when you look at it like this, it’s easy to see why The Brexit Party has been such a barnstorming success. And while I don’t believe oversimplification of complex issues is a good thing, there is definitely something that others could learn here about setting your shop front up in a way that is easy to understand and absorb, with as few shades of grey as possible, in order to make the buying (or voting) decision simpler for your target audience.