News & Insights

Tips to Effectively Brand Your Campaign This Election Cycle

By Roselyn Igbani

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Effective communication strategies and tactics are all critical to success — but first, you need to brand your campaign with an equal amount of thought and strategy.

The 2022 midterm elections offer a real challenge for Democrats. Both President Trump and President Obama lost control of the House two years after they first won the presidency, and Democrats are facing serious political headwinds that make it likely they will lose control of one, if not both, houses of Congress. In order to put up the toughest fight possible in critical elections across the country, Democratic candidates will need to reach and mobilize strategic audiences. But they aren’t the only ones who will be jostling for votes — cause-driven organizations and advocacy groups of all stripes know what’s at stake and are ready to jump into the crowded election landscape. With each party, candidate, and cause fighting for the attention of critical voters, how can your organization stand out?

Effective communication strategies and tactics are all critical to success — but first, you need to brand your campaign with an equal amount of thought and strategy. To make sure your message doesn’t get lost in the mix, here are some tips for any organization working to mobilize voters in the 2022 midterm elections:

1. Take inspiration from commercial brands and apply it strategically. No matter which cause or candidate your organization is most invested in this cycle, you’ll need to create a campaign that delivers your message clearly to a target audience — an audience that may be more specific or entirely different from the one you normally try to reach. In order to do this effectively, it’s worth sitting down with your creative team to determine how you might need to expand your brand, from voice to style to creative approach. Cause-driven organizations can look to commercial brands for inspiration. Nike, for example, has built separate but cohesive sub-brands to engage with specific target consumers, such as women or those passionate about running. While you probably don’t need a separate social media account for each aspect of your campaign, you can still think about each as a separate entity that needs to speak directly to a particular audience while maintaining a look and voice that is true to your overall brand. Be deliberate and clear with how you speak, the images you choose, and what you post during this election season.

2. Be realistic about your timeline and the pace of an election cycle. An easy way to stand out in a noisy and crowded election environment is to do something no one else is doing with their creative content. Building all creative assets as 3D illustrations, for example, could set your campaign apart and bring your message to life. But complex and detailed creative tasks take a lot longer to execute than traditional ones; they simply aren’t practical for political campaigns that need to adapt to ever-changing news cycles and other rapid response or crisis situations without ever going silent. Pick a medium that always allows you to adapt quickly and stay in the game, then focus on finding ways to get creative within that medium. For example, work with a local digital-trained artist who can make simple illustrations quickly and convert them to digital files, which can help to build a library of ready-to-use assets for teams to use throughout the campaign cycle. And, don’t forget to build a library of rapid response templates that can be ready to customize at a moment’s notice when remembering to adhere to brand guidelines might not be top of mind.

3. Make sure your brand voice sounds like a human and is personable … and bring in new voices when needed. For those who work in politics, it’s easy to forget that the average person doesn’t use or understand the political jargon that is second nature to you and your colleagues. It’s also easy to get wrapped up in the complexity of an issue and get bogged down in lengthy copy that hits all the talking points but turns your audience away from reading or listening. The audiences you’re likely trying to mobilize during this cycle will engage most with approachable and easily digestible content. Speak to your audience the way they speak to each other while remaining authentic to your brand voice. If you need to bring in other voices to best do that — such as influencers that represent your target audience — consider lifting their voices and having them deliver your message.

4. Don’t try to fix something that isn’t broken. Before you start building your new campaign brand, revisit your organization’s brand book. When done correctly, branding an organization is a lengthy yet thoughtful process that is steeped in research and deliberate decision making. Don’t throw all of that work out the door to try something new on a whim. If you’re introducing new colors to the current brand, ask yourself why you’re expanding that palette in the first place. Are there more subtle changes you could make to reach your audience? Try to include someone who worked on your organization’s branding in the campaign branding process. If you don’t put the same thought into your campaign brand – instead throwing out things that aren’t broken – you risk alienating the base that has gotten you to where you are today.

Much has been made of political branding throughout the years – like AOC’s brightly colored posters bookended by Spanish exclamation points, and President Obama’s modern and digital-friendly 2008 design. Branding can instill credibility, effectively support messaging, and connect your campaign with voters. Cause-driven organizations engaging in the election cycle must think just as strategically for their campaigns to reach and mobilize the right audiences.

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