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Design Disaster: We have a poster problem

The Observer

Is it just me, or has nearly everyone joined Zanu-PF? If yes, when did that happen, and why wasn’t I informed? The number of people parading their green and yellow “vote for me” posters for the upcoming primaries over the last few weeks is a bit of a shock.

There are a lot of new faces in the mix, which I guess is encouraging to see. Young and old, north and south of Samora, we’ve come a long way from the 60-something-year-old odd ‘youth leaders’ in Zanu-PF.

This desire to run for office suggests an enthusiasm for local politics, a positive for the political landscape. Hopefully, the electorate is equally buoyed and will turn up in numbers to exercise their democratic right.

However, as much as I’m impressed by the number of candidates putting their hand up in the Zanu-PF race, if the quality of posters is anything to go by, we still have a long way to go.

There’s been an unending spectrum of designs, making me wonder where all the graphic designers are in Zimbabwe.

From campaign posters hurriedly designed on itel phones to the horror fonts that belong in a 90s Halloween show, if Microsoft hadn’t buried Paint last year, I’d be certain it was the app used to create most of what we’ve seen.

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It’s not all gloom. Among the chaff, there have been some stand-out designs, which gives a glimmer of hope that the party communications can be salvaged ahead of the main campaign.

To some, the issue of designs, look and feel might be a minor issue. What’s in a poster? And why does it even matter? Well, there are a few reasons why it should.

The first is to protect your brand. A strong brand identity helps to establish a clear image and message for the party. This means setting guidelines for logo use, colours, fonts, and other aesthetics. When done right, it makes it easier for voters to identify what is genuine and what is not, especially in an era of fake news, spoof accounts and trolls.

Political parties should be concerned with controlling their brand identity. An easy way to do so is by providing each candidate with a template or brand guide for the campaigns and keep things organised.

Second, a visually appealing campaign poster can make a lasting impression on voters. The Barack Obama Hope poster immediately comes to mind. Simple yet striking. Strive to be memorable.

For newer candidates, a strong brand identity can help them stand out in a crowded field. With so many people vying for attention, having a clear and recognisable brand can make it easier for voters to remember and identify you.

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Lastly, a well-designed campaign poster indicates a structured and well-thought-out communications strategy. It tells voters that the party has clear objectives, has considered its audience, and knows how to connect with them.

With the number of fresh candidates this election season, establishing clear design and messaging guidelines could help all members work towards a common goal and feel connected to the larger movement.

The reality, however, is that many people, candidates and voters alike, don’t care about these things. The candidates most likely to win, who have done so in the past, are often not those without fancy designs and clean looks.

The people that do care about aesthetics are few and far between. Or maybe they just aren’t in Zanu-PF. Time will tell when other parties and candidates start to sprout.

If March is anything to go by, we’re in for a bumpy ride. Graphic designers get those portfolios out; the candidates need you.

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