Party logos belong to a bygone era, say agencies

In an age when voter apathy is ringing alarm bells at the headquarters of the main political parties, all three are considering an overhaul of their corporate identities.

First to be snuffed out could be the Conservative Party's burning torch symbol, introduced at the height of the party's power under Margaret Thatcher in the 1980s. Senior Tory figures have privately recognised that it must be revised to help attract young and ethnic minority voters.

A rebranding exercise is under way at Smith Square to overhaul the logo, the blue livery and the party's name – the Conservative and Unionist Party. The Tories have set up a committee of public relations experts – including Lord Saatchi, once Baroness Thatcher's advertising guru – to examine the party's image.

The Liberal Democrats have also been hit by branding fatigue. The bird of liberty logo, introduced in 1990, is now believed to look "weedy" and not "assertive enough". "We are a different party with ambitious goals but the bird looks too passive," said one senior MP. "We need a new, more assertive image to reflect the direction we want to go."

The Liberal Democrat leader, Charles Kennedy, recently commissioned a poll to establish attitudes towards his party.

Meanwhile, at Labour's new Old Queen Street headquarters, the party chairman, Ian McCartney, is expected to take a fresh look at his party's image. One likely change is the square "New Labour, New Britain" logo, introduced when the party was in opposition. Influential party figures believe it not only looks out of date, but is too severe. There is talk of introducing a logo to show that the party is not "resting on its laurels" in government.

Labour's red rose logo was created under Neil Kinnock in the 1980s, after Peter Mandelson, then director of communications, sought to distance the party from its socialist red flag image. The rose is rarely on display and many believe the symbol of European socialist parties looks out of date.

Leading brand managers, who have examined the three parties' images, say all are in dire need of a makeover. Their symbols belong to a bygone era, they say, and will do little to attract an increasingly disaffected electorate back to politics.

"All of them seem reluctant to make bold statements using their typefaces," said Sara Stewart of the brand managers Morello/the Wright Partnership. "Maybe they should adopt a bolder approach and keep reinventing their look to keep up to speed with the mood of the country and current events."

The agency, whose clients have included Häagen-Dazs and the breast cancer awareness campaign, said Labour's logo was dated. The Tories, meanwhile, needed to adopt a more contemporary logo with a sense of brand relevance to younger voters. "This needs to be done in conjunction with some radical change within the party otherwise it smacks of little more than window dressing," Ms Stewart said. The Liberal Democrat logo "lacks strength and doesn't suggest a party which is confident to grasp the opportunity of leadership and run with it".

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