The Independent Group branding is a masterstroke in blandness

When people don’t trust a thing politicians say, get yourself a brand that says absolutely nothing.

It feels like British politics is finally having an exciting season. After years of watching other countries experience the emotional peaks and troughs of high political drama, we’re finally getting in on the action. It’s tearing the country apart, but still.

The big news this week was seven Labour politicians leaving (don’t say abandoning) Team Corbyn to join a new political group (don’t say party) backed (don’t say bankrolled) by shadowy anonymous sources.

As soon as that Monday morning press conference was called, everyone in branding was on tenterhooks. What was under that plinth’s robe?

It was this.

A collection of letters and colours almost ostentatious in their blandness. A white background and not-quite-black lettering written in a typeface that comes free with any creative cloud subscription.

The not-quite-black element is a masterstroke. They’ve somehow achieved a logo with less personality than plain black and white block capitals. At least that would give us some contrast, some punch. Perhaps we could read something into it: a new political movement that puts things in black and white; that’s clear on its message and intentions; that’s not run by a Remainer pushing for a hard Brexit or a dishevelled Eurosceptic who doesn’t know how he’d vote in a second referendum.

The subtle art of the straight bat

The name is another skilled conversation killer. Again, it’s got the same level of charisma as a piece of Tupperware. Again, it feels like a placeholder.

People have started shortening it to TIG on Twitter, which kind of rolls off the tongue — but it still mainly feels like they’ve been named after a semi-defunct newspaper.

The best I can say is that it’s built on a benefit. To be independent is to be set apart, to be other; which, when a lot of people feel alienated from both major parties, is no bad thing. Independent also hints at being free from vested interests. Well, we’ll see just how true that is when the major donors are untangled from their web of Caribbean shell accounts.

Playing the long game

Reading this you may get the impression I’m not a fan of the initial branding. Nothing could be further from the truth. I think it’s a shrewd move (from now-10 shrewd career politicians). To use a story from my own life. A couple of summers ago I spent a gruelling week at a tennis camp in Croatia. It was a brutal experience but one bit of advice from my despairing coach did stick in my mind. “The best players”, he said, “don’t go for a winner with every shot. Sometimes it’s just about keeping the ball in court, getting your footwork sorted, and waiting for the opportunity to strike.”

This is what The Independent Group and its agency have done. What could they have possibly achieved with a name or logo that made a bold statement? The fact they exist is the bold statement, anything else would have been too much. Best to get their footing right, keep the ball in play, and wait.

Let’s see what the inevitable post-Brexit rebrand brings.

Joseph Richardson — Senior Writer, OPX