If you spend any amount of time on British Political Twitter, you’ve probably come across the graphical stylings of Rishi Sunak’s overeager Social Media Manager.
The kerning, the font choices, the rock star signature? It’s a lot to take in. The colour palette isn’t fixed, and the aesthetic bounces about wildly. I’m obsessed.
When I’m not chatting shit on twitter dot com, I write about design tips for clear communication, and Rishi, babe… this is not it.
When writing about accessible design in particular I always stress that you should use large fonts, regular spacing, and clean backgrounds can make your designs a lot more readable. Social media graphics also need to be legible “at a glance”, and account for screen size and quality.
Clear communications, especially political public facing comms, rely on the existence of a strong brand, easy to understand messaging, and consistency. In consumer marketing, there needs to be 7–10 brand interactions before a consumer will remember you. The exact same goes for personal marketing.
Because these graphics that Rishi’s (probably) underpaid low level creative is pumping out are personal branding plays. The signature, using his own imagery. He wants to directly associate the policies with his brand. He wants people to recognise what he is responsible for.
But his graphics, right now, aren’t doing that.
The cut and paste “cool font” arrangement as seen on a baffling number of posters featuring moustaches doesn’t scream authoritative policy maker. The mixed sized mixed weight font is difficult to read over the lighter areas of the background, and is also straight out of 2014.
Similarly the wink wink nudge nudge branding of a new financial initiative “Eat out to help out” enclosed (for no reason) inside a double circle looks like something you’d make for a GCSE Media assessment, not a leading initiative in a £30billion economic package.
And the branding isn’t consistent. Aside from the questionable logo and badly placed signature, the fonts and colours bounce about wildly.
Rishi Sunak presents himself as a forward thinking chancellor with modern policies, but his graphics are dated and unprofessional.
In just three graphics we’ve covered off five fonts, some custom lettering, and a hard drop shadow.. If your 7–10 interactions included these three graphics, would you associate them together?
Would you understand what the brand of Rishi Sunak stood for?
Because branding isn’t just “does this look nice”. Branding is telling a clever story about who you are.
And I don’t know who Rishi Sunak is.
He’s a man who likes 2009 kerning trends (kerning is the space in between the letters, when it’s done well you don’t even notice it).
He’s a man who likes hot pink and white fonts. He’s a man who doesn’t care much for readability. He likes a shallow depth of focus but sometimes he uses grain and sometimes he doesn’t.
And, as a side note, this is font 6, image 4.
Font 7, image 5.
It is easy to see the intention of whoever was given the copy of inDesign in his graphics. It’s a very base level understanding of branding and campaigns. Each “campaign” is different. Furlough has graphs and greens. Announcements are images and wild kerning. Economic initiatives have their own logos.
But if you took Rishi’s inconsistently placed signature off of the graphics you wouldn’t be able to link them. There are very few commonalities.
Font 8, image 6.
Personal branding is hard. Personal branding in politics is hard if you aren’t a single issue politician.
And I get what is trying to be accomplished with these graphics, but they are not doing their job. The graphics are not modern, legible, accessible, or consistent. The fonts, kerning, shadows, and font weights and sizes are all over the place. The colours are sometimes bright and sometimes dark and sometimes both. Images are used and not used — grain is added and not added. Font decorations such as boxes and custom decorative lettering is sometimes used but sometimes not.
If you’re got room in your next budget for a branding workshop, call me Rishi.