News | 13th January, 2019
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Lawrence Hansford


Did the brief not fit? Why we voted to leave the European Union (perhaps)

The vote to stay in the European Union seems like it was only yesterday, but here we are, 2 years on and we have a Government in chaos with no end in sight. So we took a look back at the arguments for and against, to see if design and strategic thinking did or could have had a part to play.

So, with any brief, comes these sort of questions - ‘what are you trying to achieve?’, ‘who is your audience’, ‘what motivates them?’ etc. When you look back at the Leave campaign (we are not looking at promises they can’t fulfil or misuse of funds - which are still being investigated), just purely looking at the messages that were out there. It was all about taking back your country, empowering the citizens of the UK to steer their own ship the way they saw fit. It was a powerful message as it connected in a deeper way, with people coming out and voting in their thousands. With every brand, campaign, website etc… it’s all about connecting. If you connect - you win… especially on an emotional level.

Neuroscience has been around for decades and our understanding of self awareness and motives etc. have been apart of our industry for longer than the bodies who were set up to study them in the first place. One of the constant things we have seen in regards to the Remain campaign (especially early on) was that there wasn’t any real emotive messaging out there. Sure, in the final few weeks they started to connect to the voter and show how important Europeans are to our everyday lives - just walk into your local NHS. But it seems this was too little, too late. Instead the Remain campaign got a list together of business men and women up and down the country urging them to vote remain. Are the general public meant to relate to these individuals, trust them and change their minds when it came to voting?

Imagine - on one side you have ‘take back your country’ and on the other you have ‘don’t vote leave because these guys are voting remain’. There was so little trust in politics, high level businesses and especially the banks since the 2007 crash… So if they say ‘trust us we know what we are doing’, did the government really think people would listen? It would seem a vote to leave was never far away.

There were so many other messages out there, but these were the two which really stuck out for us.

But now we can see the road ahead and it’s not good for Remainers or Brexiteers considering what’s on the table currently. The Leave campaigners connected with the people, it gave them power and encouragement that we can change course for the better. We can’t help but think, if the Remain campaign connected and those in power had done their homework, maybe, just maybe - we wouldn’t be where we are now.