The Branding of Politics

THE BRANDING OF POLITICS

In a few days’ time the populace of Great Britain will endorse the elected dictatorship that is the UK political system… Once every four years or so the British people get a voice. No matter how educated or uneducated you are about our nation, politics, and the world in general, every vote is equal. What makes us choose who to vote for is similar to the concept of how we choose competing brands when it comes to everyday purchasing decisions. And political parties are not dumb to the tricks of the brand trade.

Here are some of the tricks that both political parties and businesses use to differentiate themselves.

They use colour

This is the easy one, and something we always encourage our clients to do. Look at the colour of all the political parties. Conservatives Blue, Labour Red, Liberals Orange and so forth. Each picks a distinct colour to distinguish themselves, the colour in itself has no real meaning it just needs to be different. Then you can use that colour again and again in many places. When a leaflet lands on your doorstep or you see a politician in a tie, it reinforces that brand in your mind.

Digital is where the attention is at

Personally, I’m a digital dinosaur. Luckily for me the people I work with are not. In our own marketing and the work we do with clients we work heavily on using Facebook ads and other ways to generate attention. As nowadays we are glued to our smart phones. TV is redundant as the object of our focus. How many people do you see that are still fiddling with their phones whenever they watch TV. The real attention and where most of us are captivated is the phone. As branders and marketers you have to think phone first as your device for transmitting your messages.

What amazes me is we still get the leaflets though the door for an election campaign. That is so old school. While my Facebook feed is completely filled with anti-Terresa May videos, and lots of Jeremy Corbyn. If this social engagement is an indication of where the election is headed then Labour should win. Regardless, I think they have moved massively from this election being a one horse race to now it being a proper fight.

The personal brand dominates

In the UK we have a representative democracy, it is not a presidential set up. We are not voting for a leader we are meant to be voting for a local MP who will represent our views best within Parliament. The reality is that most of us wouldn’t know who our local candidate is and how he/she differs from the ‘master brand’. We get caught up in the Theresa May vs. Jeremy Corbyn fight. That is why the profile of the leader, what they stand for, and their personality, get translated and understood as what the overall party and the individual MPs stand for. How that personal brand is managed becomes massive, where are they seen, what they talk about. The ability now to build personal brands as well is massive, again through channels like YouTube and Facebook, you can create a persona. Nowadays we are headline readers, or watchers of short 1 minute videos. These multiple impressions can create a feeling and connection that reaches far beyond your typical boring profile of a politician.

The emotion trumps knowledge

Ultimately the game that is getting played out is one of emotional connection. Politicians are on it, and businesses need to be too. While there are debates and thoughts about policies and manifestos, what it really boils down for the masses is do I like you? Do I dig Corbyn over May? It is not an expert analysis and understanding of who would be best for me or the country, it is a much more emotive decision. How do I feel about this individual sitting at a table with Donald Trump? Do I think they are cool, genuine? What values do they espouse that we tune in to or turn us on?

The reality is most of us just don’t have the time to analyse properly and follow all the debates. We’ll go with our gut. We’ll be influenced by how other celebrities or prominent individuals (the power of association) are going to vote. The ‘brand’ that plays to our emotions strongest will be the political party that will win out. Which key messages they transmit that we connect with and persuade us. All of that happens at a very top line level and is communicated either through a few meaningful words or a few seconds of video. Brand is that powerful and can really play with perceptions.

I wonder which brand will win on Thursday.