It’s no longer Christy Clark’s B.C. Liberals, at least if the party’s official logo is any indication.
The new party logo proclaims “Today’s BC Liberals,” a strong departure from the previous one, which prominently featured Ms. Clark’s name.
“The new logo speaks to the success of the candidate recruitment [that] has taken place since the summer,” a B.C. Liberal spokesman said. “The new logo reflects the strength of the team that the Premier has assembled,” he said, adding that the new official logo has been in use since January.
Some have speculated the party is attempting to distance itself from its controversial leader. Once seen as a fresh face, Ms. Clark is leading the B.C. Liberals into a May election that, by all accounts, they are poised to lose.
She has also personally faced backlash in recent weeks. Many commentators argue that she botched a response to a memo that outlined a program to woo ethnic voters.
Serious doubts about her leadership also appear to be coming from within the party. In a meeting on March 3, the Premier faced her own cabinet members in a bid to persuade them she can lead the party in the coming election.
The big question now is whether a new trademark can save the Liberal brand.
The Pre-Clark logo
Before Christy Clark became Premier, the B.C. Liberals’ slogan was as straightforward as you could get: “BC Liberals” in blue and red with a shining sun above the letters.
But the Liberal brand, particularly by the late 2000s, was conjuring up a high degree of public hostility.
Under premier Gordon Campbell, the party faced an intensely negative reaction to the introduction of the harmonized sales tax. There was also the epically long saga of the sale of BC Rail, culminating in 2010 when two senior political aides pleaded guilty to leaking confidential information related to the sale of the rail line in exchange for cash and other financial benefits. The party needed to rebrand itself. It needed new blood. Enter Ms. Clark.
The Fresh-Face logo
If Christy Clark was the answer – many thought she could move the party away from its old image and woo the female vote – then it made sense to promote her. The B.C. Liberal logo was thus changed: “Christy” and “BC” were in big red letters, while their companion words, “Clark” and “Liberals,” were in smaller, blue type. There was still the shining sun.
“What you’re doing is hooking your brand to a particular face. This is very similar to what we call celebrity branding,” said Lindsay Meredith, an expert in political marketing at Simon Fraser University.
But Dr. Meredith said the plan with Ms. Clark didn’t really work. Too much of the old guard remained, he said, and Ms. Clark didn’t resonate with female voters as expected.
“It is dangerous, because you’re hooking the fate of the whole product, the whole party, on one individual,” he said. “All you need to have is that one individual suddenly not resonating as much as you’re hoping, and now you’ve got a problem.”
And the Liberals appear to have a problem. According to an Angus Reid poll released March 21, the NDP held a 20-point lead over the Liberals. NDP leader Adrian Dix’s approval rating stood at 47 per cent, while Ms. Clark’s was at 27 per cent. Almost three in five respondents said their opinion of the Premier had worsened.
The “Team” logo
The new official logo, “Today’s BC Liberals,” might be the party’s response to its troubles.
“They’ve paid attention to their polls now. [Christy Clark is] not doing well at all, so obviously [her team] has said this strategy does not work,” Dr. Meredith said.
But he added that the brand adjustment so close to the election is extremely risky because it might confuse voters.
“When you’re trying to sell a product, you hope to God you don’t get this far down the line before you finally figure out we have to change horses,” Dr. Meredith said. “[The party] thinks they’re leaving one leaky rowboat, and I fear that they don’t have a good description of the other rowboat they’re jumping into.”