National need to up their game

The title says it all really. Another day, another bad example of a social media graphic from the National Party. Not only are there issues over image choice, there are also branding issues as well. It is only April, the election isn’t until September, if they can’t get the brand consistency across multiple graphics people right now, how do they plan to do it when things get hectic during the campaign?


Lets start with the tweet about government spending to clean up New Zealand’s rivers. The focus on Rotorua could be seen as an attempt to support Todd McClay, who is facing a challenge from Tamati Coffey. It is unlikely that Tamati will present a serious challenge, considering Todd’s 7,357 vote majority, which was an increase from his 5,065 vote majority in 2008. As well as the projected 5.39% electorate vote shift to Todd due to the boundary realignments. However, if this is the best image they could find of Lake Rotorua, then I have no idea where they were looking. I just did a quick search on Flickr, and found at least 3 images that would have looked better, and that was in the space of less than 5 min. All of the images have commercial Creative Commons licenses. So what is wrong with the image that was used? Stop for a moment and think, when you think of Lake Rotorua, what is the first thing you think of? For me it is either the island in the middle, or the paddle steamer and float planes. The image they have used is also very dark and uninviting. There is no detail in the shadows, it is a snapshot and nothing more. Where as what should be used is a high quality, beautiful image of Rotorua.

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Next we have the image for the extending the funding for Cochlear implants. Things don’t get much better with this one. Lets start with some basics, images with people looking out of frame make people feel uncomfortable, there is an obstruction to the line of vision. It also leaves a large amount of empty space behind the people. That is just the start of the issues for this image. Add in the over exposure on the peoples faces and the magenta colour cast.




That is each of the individual images, but there are also consistency issues with the branding on the two images. These images were tweeted less than 3 hours apart. I am pretty sure that the National Party hasn’t changed it’s branding in the intervening 3 hours. The shade of blue is not the same, the second image has the blue line extending across the bottom of the image, while the top image doesn’t. The style of the text boxes don’t match. The second image is the stronger of the two, I still don’t think the choice of image was great, but it is still a stronger over all product than the first image.


As an organisation, if you are going to be producing graphics, they should all fit to a set style. There should be a concise style guide, that is given to everyone involved in the production of graphics, it should be adhered too and there should be checks along the way to make sure this is happening. There is a case to be made for different styles for different channels of communication, print vs web ad vs facebook vs twitter, but within one of those communication channels the style should be coherent.


The last issue to talk about is the issue of hashtags. The first image uses #nznats, which is only used by the National Party. So it is most likely not gaining them any extra reach. The last graphic has no hashtags, so is going to get no extra organic reach. This means that when you have less than 5,500 followers, you will be relying on your followers to retweet things to generate any significant reach as a return on your work. At this stage, I don’t see this working.