No more excuses. A design project for Elections Ontario makes it easier to vote than ever.
We all know we should be voting. It’s our civic duty and all. But sometimes it’s just a pain to actually get out there and cast your ballot. It’s really easy for life to get in the way—especially if you’re not all that engaged with the issues or candidates in the first place.
But what if it was just as easy to vote as it is to make excuses? In a nutshell, that’s the premise behind the We Make Voting Easy project. Leo Burnett Canada worked with a government organization called Elections Ontario to take as much hassle out of the voting process as possible.
Early on, the firm sat down and listed all the reasons you might not be able to vote: What if I can’t get a babysitter? What if I’m busy that night? Where is my polling location? “We wanted to counter that by giving people the means to vote despite any of the things that may come up in their life,” says Scott Leder, lead designer. “Instead of the ‘rah, rah, rah you should vote’ type of mentality, we went counter and just said, ‘Well, it’s so easy why wouldn’t you?’”
Many of those excuses turned into a series of compelling posters with such humorously long URLs as iLostMyVoterCard.ca and CanSomeoneElseVoteForMe.ca. These all led people back to resources on the Elections Ontario website. It’s just one stellar part of a top-to-bottom redesign that touched the logo, voter registration cards, signage, environmental graphics and more, all with a laser-like focus on easy. “We can’t get people to care about who they’re going to vote for,” says Lisa Greenberg, vice-president creative director, head of art. “But what we can do is we can make damn sure that they feel that if they are going to vote, that this is going to be the easiest time.”
HOW judges took note of the passion and the results. HOW content director/judge Megan Patrick wished the whole campaign could move south to the U.S., while Jessica Kuhn, HOW’s online/senior editor and judge, praised the use of design to make a tangible positive change in the world. But HOW senior art director/judge Bridgid McCarren may have summed up the campaign’s genius best: “Just to take such a complex and unnecessarily difficult task and make it easier to do is amazing.”
Perhaps most impressive is how inviting, fun and clear this government brand manages to be. While Elections Ontario didn’t originally want to change its logo, the design team convinced them to update the branding. The X mark stayed, because it’s the only way to mark a ballot in Canada. But the mark was made friendlier, going from an angular form to one that’s much softer and more inviting. The design team also changed the brand’s typeface from a block sans serif to a rounded face that mimicked the X, and they moved the Elections Ontario name from wrapping around the X to living below it.
Updating the brand color — from a teal green to yellow — proved an even tougher challenge. Elections Ontario encourages people to vote, but not for any one party, so they need to appear neutral like Switzerland. Since political parties own much of the color wheel, the choices came down to yellow, purple and teal. The final yellow leans toward orange, so it’s a vibrant contrasting color even against white. It grabs attention while maintaining readability. For people who have trouble reading contrasting colors, pertinent information is always offered in black.
“There were many, many factors in this brand, which is why we’re so happy that it’s doing well,” Greenberg says. “It had to be for new residents to the country. It had to be easy. It had to be understandable. It had to be approachable. It had to feel like, for once, the government got its shit together, and they are creating brand that feels ‘for the people.’” We’d say they’re right on target.
Title We Make Voting Easy | Design Firm Leo Burnett Canada, Toronto; www.leoburnett.ca | Creative Team Judy John, chief creative officer/creative director; Lisa Greenberg, Shirley Ward-Taggart, creative directors; Felix Wardene, director of creative technology; David Federico, Mike Morelli, Matthew Kenney, Ron Cueto, Brendan Good, art directors; Scott Leder, art director/designer; Jeff Watkins, Tracy Ma, designers; Kimberley Pereira, Chris Duchaine, designers/illustrators; James Joyce, illustrator; Jesse Senko, photographer; Morgan Kurchak, Josh Rachlis, Len Preskow, Joy Panday, copywriters; Jacqueline Bellmore, producer; Jacqueline Adediji, web/Flash developer; Matthew Rependa, developer | Client Elections Ontario