Information Design and Voter Education: A Reflection on the 2018 Midterms and How to Design for 2020

The goal of the project was to first identify why Millennials weren’t voting as much as older generations, and ultimately attempt to inspire higher turnout in the local university community.

Courtney Marchese
Associate Professor
Quinnipiac University

In the summer of 2018, a design student-professor collaboration produced a 100-page Midterm Election Guide, that set out to tackle the lopsided statistic that millennial voters (18-35 years old in 2016) had a nearly 20% lower voter turnout in 2016’s presidential election, as compared to Baby Boomers (53-71) despite having a near equal portion of eligible voters (each about 30%).

The goal of the project was to first identify why Millennials weren’t voting as much as older generations, and ultimately attempt to inspire higher turnout in the local university community. Through an initial survey of college-aged students, the vast majority noted that they do not typically vote because they feel like they don’t know enough about the issues at stake and are not educated on the purpose of midterm elections. They further noted which issues are most important to them, which are the issues that are focused on in this guide: the environment, the economy, immigration, foreign policy, the treatment of minority groups, gun policy, healthcare, and women’s rights. While these issues surfaced as top priorities to millennials, it was evident that these topics resonate across generations.

Data from the internationally-recognized Quinnipiac Polling Institute, Pew Research Center and a variety of government websites, was used to create an organized system of timelines, key terms, and data visuals to help explain today’s complex politic issues and seeks to help young voters understand their demographic significance in today’s society. This presentation describes the effect that the guide had in the 2018 midterms, and looks at the evolving strategy for how it will educate voters in 2020.

Story-Doing Concepts

To create a fundamental shift to what a brand or entity’s story can do for the greater good, we have to think of storytelling in terms of actions.

Robin Landa  
Distinguished Professor
Michael Graves College, Kean University

Underpinning any successful brand or nonprofit is a distinctive story. In today’s global economy, to differentiate a brand, social cause, or organization in people’s minds, storytelling is critical. That story involves brand values and strategy—what a brand or entity stands for and communicates. To create a fundamental shift to what a brand or entity’s story can do for the greater good, we have to think of storytelling in terms of actions. Ty Montague and Rosemarie Ryan, creative directors at co: collective, call this proposition StoryDoing.

Rather than conceiving promotional communication design that merely tells the brand story, I teach students to conceive promotional design concepts that involve beneficial actions on the part of the brand or entity. To conceive story-­‐doing concepts, one needs to restructure the idea generation process to embrace social good. Can the communication design solutions contribute to society in terms of beneficial messaging, a business platform (think Bombas or Warby Parker), or charitable works?

Think of how Dove brand advertising changed the conversation about beauty through their Real Beauty campaigns. Dove listened to the negative messaging women were writing on social media and set out to change the conversation. Partnering with NBA star Kevin Durant, Kind Snacks announced their goal was to “launch a new cultural initiative that aims to challenge deeply rooted stereotypes and redefine cultural perceptions of strength and kindness.” Instead of merely promoting Kind Snacks, their communication design goals included changing the conversation about what it means to be strong.

The story-doing proposition can become an organizing principle for conceiving communication design concepts incorporating socially positive actions on the part of a brand. To shift the brand storytelling paradigm to a story-doing one, students must learn how to conceive brand stories with organic beneficial actions. This presentation will center on teaching students to conceive story-doing design projects.