The UK Independence Party has said that it will be undergoing a major rebrand in the follow-up to the start of Brexit negotiations, as the brand needs “modernising”.
UKIP has floated the idea that it could ditch its purple and yellow colours and its pound sign, but party leader and MEP for North West England Paul Nuttall has confirmed that the UKIP name will not be changing because it is worth too much money, reports The Telegraph.
“UKIP’s brand is worth a lot of money,” Nuttall told the newspaper this week. “It is one of the most recognised brands. I think it needs modernising – we need a different feel to the party as we move into the post-Brexit age.”
The announcement came at a UKIP press conference that set out the party’s “six tests” that would indicate the UK had exited the EU, which span policies around areas such as immigration, trade and law-making.
UKIP has confirmed that the party’s new look will roll out in the follow-up to UKIP’s annual conference in Torquay in September.
The idea of a proposed rebrand follows the resignation of the party’s only MP Douglas Carswell from his post, leaving UKIP with no representation in the House of Commons.
Carswell resigned “cheerfully and amicably”, according to Nuttall, who added that his departure “will make no difference to [Nuttall’s] ability…[to deliver] the reforms [Nuttall] promised when elected as leader”.
Following former party leader Nigel Farage being frozen out of the official Vote Leave campaign, which was headed up by Conservative MPs Boris Johnson and Michael Gove, it’s not surprising the party wants to change its image. Now, UKIP losing its only remaining MP has cemented this need for change.
Moving beyond Farage’s immigration agenda
Conservatives cut UKIP out of the Vote Leave campaign in light of Farage openly expressing extreme views which could have been seen to paint the campaign in a bad light.
For instance, Farage accused the campaign of not focusing enough on immigration, and openly promoted a poster showing a crowd of majority non-white people alongside the words “We must…take back control”. This sparked too much controversy for the Conservatives, and even led to the leader of union Unison reporting this particular element of campaigning to the police.
Farage later resigned as party leader following the Brexit vote. The party could be using a rebrand to “modernise”, as current leader Paul Nuttall says – in other words, move beyond the controversial image Farage created and beyond the immigration agenda.
An image change could improve public opinion
An image change could give the party a chance to establish trust with the public, and improve its ratings after a period of turbulence. According to YouGov, on 5-6 June 2016 shortly before the EU referendum, 63% of respondents “did not trust” Nigel Farage – a higher figure than Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, Boris Johnson, Michael Gove and current Conservative leader Theresa May.
A more recent YouGov report from February 2017 shows how much the public trusts each political party based on different voting issues – UKIP scored highly on immigration, but still lower than the Conservatives. It scored on par with Labour on Britain exiting the EU – which is surprising considering Labour championed the Remain vote – and much lower than the Conservatives, Labour and Liberal Democrats on health, education, housing and the economy. UKIP may be trying to create a more well-rounded image of itself.
UKIP still wants to remain a key voice in Brexit
It is interesting that, while floating the idea of a rebrand, Nuttall has confirmed that the UKIP name will not be changing. Perhaps retaining the name “UK Independence Party” aims to reinforce how, although frozen out of the Leave campaign, UKIP was still a strong force which influenced the vote to leave the EU.
Nuttall said of MP Carswell’s departure that UKIP would continue into its “next phase of [its] campaign to rebuild a confident, independent nation” – indicating the party still thinks it is a key voice in Brexit.
Greater consideration of design?
Nuttall candidly told The Telegraph that UKIP originally settled on the colours purple and yellow “because there were no other colours available”. Perhaps this rebrand could indicate that the right-wing political party may start putting more considered thought into design and visual communications in general.