General election: The Conservative candidates ditching the Tory brand

How bad is the Conservative brand? 

Bad enough for dozens of its own candidates to avoid using it, according to research from Sky's Online Campaign Team and Who Targets Me.

We looked at the adverts published on Facebook and Instagram by 521 Labour and Conservative candidates from 1 May until 12 June.

Of these, 376 adverts contained official branding (logos and colours), 104 had some form of partial branding, and 41 had no branding at all.

And the vast majority of those with no branding - 38 - were Conservative.

Of the 80 Conservative candidates who had partial branding, 59 (73%) only mentioned the party in the funding disclosure - where they were legally obliged to do so. They did not mention the party anywhere else in the text of the advert, or on the visuals if the advert was an image (no videos were watched).

Of the 19 Labour candidates, all mentioned the party in the written text above the advert, as well as in the funding declaration.

Most Labour candidates' adverts are plastered in party branding.

But for a number of Conservatives, it's hard to tell at a glance that they're Conservatives.

That includes several prominent figures, including veterans' ministers Johnny Mercer, defence secretary Grant Shapps, and former Conservative leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith.

The online adverts are the quantifiable aspect of a trend that, anecdotally, appears to be the case on the ground too.

Johnny Mercer completely avoids Conservative branding in his election leaflets. The reverse page mentions the party in small text and in brackets as part of the funding disclosure, where candidates are, again, legally obliged to.

And Andrea Jenkyns, first elected as a Conservative MP in 2015 and a former minister, does at least paint her leaflet in true blue.

But the first picture is of her posing with the leader of another party entirely - Nigel Farage.

It's an unconventional strategy.

Speaking on Friday morning, Treasury minister Bim Afolami refused to be drawn on it.

"All candidates are fighting their own seats," he told Sky News. "I am not going to comment on Andrea or anyone else, it's up to her how she wants to appeal to her electorate."

It is, however, worth stressing that the majority of Conservative candidates are using party branding.

But a significant number think they're better off without it.

Or better off with Nigel Farage.

Note: Sky's Online Campaign Team examined the branding on all political adverts from the main parties. Of the top advertising spenders, only 16 of them were either Lib Dem, Green, Reform or Sinn Fein. All were fully branded, except for one advert by Michelle O'Neill, vice president of Sinn Fein, which was partly branded.

The Data and Forensics team is a multi-skilled unit dedicated to providing transparent journalism from Sky News. We gather, analyse and visualise data to tell data-driven stories. We combine traditional reporting skills with advanced analysis of satellite images, social media and other open source information. Through multimedia storytelling we aim to better explain the world while also showing how our journalism is done.