NYC Votes Unveils Branding and Website Updates for 2021 Elections


Animated gif of the new NYC Votes logo and branding

The NYC Campaign Finance Board is unveiling a new look for NYC Votes, the Board’s voter engagement initiative, and a complete update to its website. The changes will help all New Yorkers engage more deeply in the 2021 elections — the city’s largest in over two decades, and the first to use Ranked Choice Voting.

“From affordable housing, to racial justice, to public education, local elections can make the biggest impact on the issues that matter most to the everyday lives of New Yorkers," said Amy Loprest, Executive Director of the Campaign Finance Board. "The NYC Votes initiative helps New Yorkers make those connections so they can fully engage in shaping the outcome of these races.”

“Our new graphic identity and digital tools capture the energy and diversity of New York City, reflecting our belief that including the voices of all New Yorkers is essential to creating a fairer, more open democracy,” said Charlotte Levitt, Director of Marketing and Digital Communications for NYC Votes. “We thank all of our partners in creating this new look and feel for NYC Votes, marking a much-needed expansion of this important and timely work as we move closer to the primary elections.”

NYC Votes worked with leading branding, creative, and design firms to create the new graphic identity and assets, including Pentagram, Blue State, Big Duck, The Center for Civic Design, and Once-Future Office.

The new design elements and digital tools are grounded in the needs, questions, and issues that matter to NYC voters, which were identified and validated in research by Big Duck in early 2021.

Big Duck, a communications firm that works with nonprofits and government agencies, held focus groups and polled over 1,200 city voters in English, Spanish, and Mandarin (Traditional Chinese written characters) this past January to identify the issues that motivate New Yorkers to vote in the upcoming elections, and their questions, needs, and barriers to being more civically engaged.

"New Yorkers understand that local elections have a significant and direct impact on their lives, and voters are looking for accessible and unbiased information about the voting process and the candidates,” said Ally Dommu, Director of Strategy for Big Duck. “As part of a nonpartisan city agency, it's important that the brand of NYC Votes is helpful, clear, and encouraging—ultimately playing a role in inspiring New Yorkers to vote."

Relying on this research, the new NYC Votes logo and graphic identity was created by award-winning designer and Pentagram partner Eddie Opara and team. It powerfully connects the act of voting with the expression of one’s own voice, and is designed to reflect the unique character and vibrancy of New York. 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.

“We can testify that the act of voting is indicative of each New Yorker’s exigency. Their unique voices, rendered visually, amplifies and highlights issues within all NYC communities so that empowered change may occur,” said designer Eddie Opara. “The visual design language needed to be intelligent, flexible and distinct, celebrating and framing the content it encompasses where NYC Votes is the vehicle in shaping multitudes of voices that reflect and promote equity, inclusivity, accessibility, acceptability and accountability.”

Blue State brought the design elements to life in relaunching The new website answers voters’ top questions about how to participate in NYC elections, and why they matter. One of the more interactive sections of the site walks voters through how to fill out their ballots in the city’s first Ranked Choice Voting primary election, a new way for voters to express their preferences by ranking up to five candidates for each office on their ballot. The site will also be the home of the city’s official digital Voter Guide, with profiles and videos of candidates for local offices launching June 1.

“We are living in a moment where more and more people are recognizing their own personal impact when it comes to voting, particularly at the local level — and it’s critical that every single eligible voter understands, has access to, and is comfortable with the process. Our democracy depends on it,” said Dana Nichomoff, Managing Director, New York at Blue State. “And so we are proud of this work as a continuation of sites built for NYC that promote equity, not only giving voters the tools and information to do their part in upholding our democracy, but also increasing language access and usability for all.”

An image of the ranked choice voting tool on the website

The redesigned website also includes updates to improve overall accessibility and usability that were driven by research by the Center for Civic Design. In late 2020, the Center for Civic Design led a series of in-depth usability tests with NYC voters to refine messaging and materials about Ranked Choice Voting.

“In a city as diverse as New York, we knew we needed to learn more about what voters wanted to know about Ranked Choice Voting," said Christopher Patten of the Center for Civic Design. "We learned that New Yorkers want simple, clear, and consistent information to help set expectations about how to vote using this new method."

Like the print Voter Guide and other NYC Votes promotional materials, is available in the five languages covered in the Voting Rights Act – English, Spanish, Traditional Chinese, Bengali, and Korean and now meets the WCAG 2.0 AA standards for accessibility. The new site uses professional translations rather than automated tools to ensure that the content is equally accessible to all, regardless of English language proficiency.

Learn more about the website redesign in this case study from Blue State:

A concurrent advertising campaign starting May 14 across broadcast, digital, and print local media, with the tagline “Our future is on the ballot,” focuses on the issues motivating New Yorkers to participate in this year’s election, with supporting messaging about Ranked Choice Voting. Created by Once-Future Office, a local minority- and women-owned design firm, the campaign builds on and brings to life the new graphic identity with activating and approachable messaging.

A boy in a wheelchair holding school supplies with the messages quality public education and our future is on the ballot A person wearing a mask with Korean text
A woman with a small child on her back and Bengla text A woman wearing a mask with a megaphone at her mouth with the messages racial justice and our future is on the ballot

“To encourage local voter engagement after an unprecedented year, we examined why people vote and what they care about. The inaugural campaign of the new NYC Votes brand identity brings together the top issues facing the city with a range of voices from everyday New Yorkers, said Once-Future Office Principals Dungjai Pungauthaikan and Nikki Chung. "When New Yorkers ‘see ourselves’ and our needs represented in this campaign it’s a rallying cry—we will shape the future of our city with our votes.”

NYC Votes, the Voter Assistance Advisory Committee, and the Campaign Finance Board’s leadership and staff also engaged in the research and design process, including input from the 2021 Class of We Power NYC Ambassadors, in the development of the campaign tagline and creative aspects. Several youth ambassadors were also cast in a PSA to be broadcast on local television channels.