The upcoming 2021 New York mayoral election will be the city’s largest in over two decades, and the first to use Ranked Choice Voting. To help all New Yorkers engage more deeply in the elections, the NYC Campaign Finance Board has unveiled a new look for NYC Votes, the Board’s voter engagement initiative, and a complete update to its voting.nyc website.
As part of the program, Pentagram has created a new graphic identity for NYC Votes that powerfully connects the act of voting with the expression of one’s own voice. The identity framework and messaging are engaging, empowering and useful to voters, with a cohesive system that helps communicate that NYC elections are open, fair and transparent.
Pentagram worked closely on the project with the NYC Campaign Finance Board and a group of firms that included Blue State, Big Duck, the Civic Center for Design, and Once-Future Office. The Campaign Finance Board first enlisted Big Duck to conduct research that would identify the needs, questions and issues that matter to NYC voters.
Pentagram then developed a brand strategy and positioning that recognizes the act of voting is indicative of each New Yorker’s exigency. The design language needed to be intelligent, flexible and distinct, celebrating and framing the content. NYC Votes is the vehicle in shaping multitudes of voices that reflect and promote equity, inclusivity, accessibility, acceptability and accountability.
The graphic identity is designed to reflect the unique character and vibrancy of New York, featuring a bold wordmark with customized typography that uplifts voices with a voice of its own. The wordmark has distinctive inktraps that allow it to scale and the letters are united to evoke the connection of communities. Primary typography is set in the grotesk sans Whyte (designed by ABC Dinamo), which has a bold and friendly look, and Whyte Inktrap is used for display type.
The branding comes to life in a dynamic visual language of open speech bubbles that suggest a diversity of voices and support multiple languages. The symbols start from a letter “v” inspired by a checkmark and the bubbles can take on the shape of the different boroughs. The identity appears in a contemporary color palette that takes its cues from NYC. Posters, social media and other campaign elements incorporate photographs of real New Yorkers in neighborhoods across the city.
The system functions as a kit of parts that the other agencies can use to create various components. The design elements are brought to life in Blue State’s relaunch of voting.nyc, where they are used to help answer voters’ questions about how to participate in NYC elections and how to fill out their ballots in the Ranked Choice Voting primary election. The redesigned website also includes updates to improve overall accessibility and usability that were driven by research by the Center for Civic Design.
The new graphic identity has been combined with activating and approachable messaging in an advertising campaign centered around the tagline “Our future is on the ballot,” created by Once-Future Office and running across broadcast, digital and print media.