The visuals of your campaign matter more than ever. From TV ads and mail to social media and websites, most voters are encountering your visual brand before they meet the candidate (if ever) and first impressions count for a lot.
Top campaigns are thinking more strategically about their visual brand and investing resources into the design of logos, wordmarks, and other assets because they understand the potential for a competent brand to convey credibility. A style guide is a key element of professional branding. It documents the expectations for logo usage, ensures the campaign uses a unified design vocabulary, and
Here’s a look at how to create a style guide, what to include, and how to get everyone to use it.
Start by talking with everyone on the campaign team who will be using visual assets – TV, digital, mail, field, finance, etc. – to learn what they need from the visual brand and where they’ll be using it.
Getting their input will increase the likelihood that they will follow your style guide. You’ll also learn about unique requirements you may otherwise overlook. For example, with printing and merchandise, a single color is more affordable than two colors. Yard signs need to be legible from a distance and at speed so hard-to-read slogans are out.
Make it easy to find all of the campaign’s visual assets. This includes all variations of the campaign’s logo in various colors and file formats, approved photos, color palettes, and fonts.
Accessibility will make it more likely that colleagues use it.
In your style guide you should include examples of when to use certain logo variations, like a solid color on a dark background, and what not to do with the campaign’s visual brand.
Write A Narrative
If you’re serious about your campaign’s overall brand – not just what it looks like – take the time to write a brief narrative about who the candidate is, what he or she stands for, and how the visual representation reflects that.
Not only will this boost the buy-in you get for the brand internally, but it will ensure the brand remains consistent on everything from copywriting to how the campaign is run.
Make It Easy To Find
Campaigns move fast. Your style guide can’t get in the way of the rest of the team so make it accessible and easy to find. Ensure everyone – including consultants and vendors – can get their hands on the guide and assets 24/7 by sending copies, providing links in email or Slack, and hosting it on an internal shared folder.
Help everyone on the team follow the style guide by creating templates for items where the logo is to be used, such as social share graphics, video end cards, email signatures, letterhead and more. You’ll save time and build a consistent visual brand.
Use Branding Software
To build your guide, you can use a template (like this one from HubSpot) or a purpose-built software application like Frontify. Canva, the design app I recommend most, offers templates as well and you can even create a brand guide to quickly apply to the graphics you design.
A consistent visual brand will give your campaign a more professional and trustworthy look. Your campaign’s logo is often the first impression a voter gets whether it’s through mail, signs, or online. Using a style guide is the only way to ensure the experience a voter has is consistent across every aspect of your campaign.