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malevolent design weblog

This blog is now defunct, but you can find more stuff over at my personal site

Designing Conservatively

The UK’s Conservative Party has had a torch in its logo since the 80s, combined with bold typography and flag-waving red, white and blue:

Old logo

It was always an unsubtle piece of branding, but nowadays seems particularly strident and aggressive; basically reminiscent of the worst aspects of Thatcherism. It had to change, and as part of David Cameron’s ‘modernising’ the logo has been changed:

New logo

Note that the name’s now clearly a plural noun rather than an adjective; a group of people instead of a set of values. Dropping the CAPITAL LETTERS gives it a gentler voice.

Fresher colour and restrained flag-waving is part of the whole softer/gentler/caring image, but I wonder whether it’ll stand the test of time. In the 90s the Labour Party reduced its use of red (to visibly signal moves away from socialism) without abandoning it; by dropping the strong blue the Conservatives risk losing long-term ‘ownership’ of a primary colour.

The scribbly tree has attracted the most criticism, but a tree was always an obvious front-runner (‘greener’ policies, growth, green and pleasant land) and won a poll back in June. Cameron’s clearly not afraid to test how far the public will go in accepting the Tories have changed, especially in terms of environmental policies.

Overall, it works OK in terms of superficially leaving behind some negative connotations, but actions will need to match the image and ditching everything is risky. Sometimes it pays to work at changing the very real feelings people attach to symbols, eventually making them valuable once again.

No sign of a sonic logo so far…


Kind of the visual equivalent of when George Bush declared himself a 'Compassionate Conservative.' I hope Conservative Party is less disingenuous.

Ravi Khalsa, 20th Sep, 3:24pm

You haven't mentioned the another interesting point - the name change. It now has the 's' on the end.

So is it now 'vote conservatives' rather than 'conservative.?

Not that I'll be doing either mind you...

Daniel, 21st Sep, 11:17am

[nudges Dan and points to the third paragraph]

Matt Round, 21st Sep, 11:24am

<crawls back into corner>

Daniel, 21st Sep, 1:51pm

good post and nice site

morteza, 5th Oct, 1:18pm

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