Visual Identity Dynamics in Political Campaigning

In the digital era, where the internet plays an increasingly significant role in every aspect of life including politics, the question of how we can maximize its use to improve the effectiveness of political campaign designs arises. In developed nations, many design breakthroughs have become integral in political campaign strategies. However, it seems that in Indonesia this step is still a challenge in and of itself.

Over the past 75 days, Indonesians have witnessed various campaign strategies employed by political parties or figures in an attempt to sway public opinion for the elections on February 14, 2024. Now, rather than depending on traditional media like posters, banners, or television advertisements, political parties and figures have instead used social media as a campaign platform that is considered effective.

When design materials are shared on social media, the campaign message is freely spread to all corners of society. The appropriate designs can deliver vision and mission infographics, track records, as well as performance data that can impact the public’s decision. In observing this year’s elections, the role of social media has been crucial in creating visual trends that shape the identity of the Indonesian Presidential and Vice-Presidential candidates. The design of political campaigns—as with any promotional strategy—is packaged with a visual identity to leave a lasting impression on the public. This process is also supported by the visual trends shaped by social media.

The "K-popfication" of the campaign of Anies Baswedan and Muhaimin Iskandar, running under the ballot number one, has led many visual materials created by supporters on social media reminiscent of K-pop trends. The "gemoy" (slang of the word gemas meaning “cute”) image of the ballot number two, Prabowo Subianto and Gibran Rakabuming Raka, on social media has led to their campaign design materials featuring adorable characters, both created by their internal campaign team and by supporters. Meanwhile, supporters of ballot number three, Ganjar Pranowo and Mahfud MD, have utilized the penguin meme trend associated with them as their visual identity. Fundamentally, from the beginning, the internal team of the third pair already had their visual direction, using designs that are firm and masculine in their campaign materials, akin to the image of Ganjar Pranowo and Mahfud MD.

Awareness of this visual branding can result in a boomerang effect if it is unaccompanied with design materials that can deliver crucial messages like the vision and mission as well as track records to the public effectively. Thus far, the public seemed to have been largely complacent with the visual image of the candidates while overlooking that there are other important facts that should be consumed through effective infographic design as a form of public education before the elections are held. Aside from the strategy in the running for the executive branch, the campaign design for the legislative branch also seemed to only sell the candidates’ image through posters dominated with the face of the candidates, the head of their supporting party, or a political figure behind them. With this design pattern, it’s as if the public’s hindered from understanding what each candidate has to offer should they gain the seat they are running for.

In Indonesia, campaign design breakthroughs presented initiatively by the political party, political figures, and the internal campaign teams is considered inconsequential in the bigger political constellation. Independent movements like Bijak Memilih (English: lit. choose wisely) had to get involved with providing infographics with effective designs that could be accessed by the greater public. Through content on their official website and social media, Bijak Memilih distributed information regarding the vision and mission, track record, background, as well as the issues surrounding each candidate with a minimalist design and relevant illustration. Members of the public are able to easily access and clearly digest said information. References to memes and pop culture are also still used to draw the public’s attention. Unfortunately, movements like this often stand alone and struggle to expand on a massive scale without greater support.


In the world of politics, graphic design or visual identity of campaigns is an important tool clearly delivering campaign messaging and political information. Often forgotten, the visual element has always played a part in shaping human life, including in the matter of political life as written in the journal Visual Political Communication. From traditional beliefs and cultures to popular phenomena in the modern era, visuals play a role in sparking ideas and determining human decisions. This proves that visuals have socio-political power that impacts human thoughts and feelings about the environment and our position in society. Politics itself has always had a visual dimension, and in this era of abundant information with a population having internet access, visuals might be a powerful way to capture the attention of voters in a visual campaign. The visual elements created in campaign materials act as controllers of the influence received by society.

In this context, Indonesia itself is a complex nation with many political challenges, including in terms of its broad geography, cultural diversity, economic and class inequality, as well as a poignant political history. Good design is achieved when it is able to reach all layers of society. Actualizing design that is on par in political campaigns is something that still needs to be worked on in Indonesia. This awareness is slowly inching forward with the participation of designers from a variety of backgrounds and the massive portion of the Indonesian population who are active on social media. The skills of these designers can be mobilized into real action that impacts the nation’s democracy, especially during the election period. Posters, illustrations, and infographics distributed on social media with the hope that campaigning political parties and figures grow aware of the importance of design in representing their stance and ideas.

This awareness has long been held by AIGA (American Institute of Graphical Arts) when they launched the Design for Democracy movement in response to election campaigns in the United States. Dating back to 1998, this initiative’s mission is to utilize design to increase public participation in the election. This movement also pushed designers to become more vocal members of society and support a healthy democracy. Design for Democracy wanted to foster interactions between the United States government and the people it governs through design that is easy to understand, efficient, and legible. AIGA believes that good design can push clearer choices.

However, it seems that in Indonesia, actualizing good, on par, and in line with democracy as touted by AIGA is a challenge that continues to push designers to think more critically. In facing the challenge of design in political campaigns in Indonesia, it is important for designers to participate and for the public to support this participation so that the push for effective campaign design that reaches all layers of society is something that is implemented by all election candidates in their political campaigns.

About the Author

Alessandra Langit

Alessandra Langit is a writer with seven years of diverse media experience. She loves exploring the quirks of girlhood through her visual art and reposting Kafka’s diary entries at night.