Political Branding

Every year a band of candidates contest for an election at various levels. 2008 was historic and the major reason behind Barack Obama’s success was that brand ‘Obama’ was stronger than brand ‘Mc Cain’. Even Sarah Palin proved to be a powerful brand.

It might seem quite abstract at the first but at the core there are two (or more) people trying to sell themselves to the electorate. The person getting the mandate has sold more units. So it is simply a competition between the quantity of the sold units rather than quality since 1 person accounts for 1 vote. To sell more units you need to appeal to your customer i.e. the voter.

The important thing here is that the time for which candidates campaign for an election is much less than needed to establish a brand. So the first thing for a candidate to get an edge, is to start early. Maybe 2 years before election, if the stakes are high. The money spent on campaigning shouldn’t be too high at that time else the memory of the electorate might fade when needed. As it is the public memory is too short. Moreover this period is advantageous for incumbent ministers as they have the power to act easily to catch the public eye, but mostly they doze off.

To make your party/candidate into a brand you need to first outline and demarcate the principles (core ideas)of your brand. This is like sketching a character for a play. A lot of care has to be shown since a fault here and you will have to start all over again. Here is when the caprice of politicians makes them shoot into their own leg.

Taking a stand appeals to all electorates, be it aggressive or a more development focussed one. Over the years, I’ve noticed that the latter has had more chances of success than failure.

Building a brand in a short time is not easy and hence it is necessary to leverage the power of other brands too. These other brands mostly consist of celebrities. While choosing a celeb to be a part of your campaign it is necessary to select the right one for a national propaganda. At regional levels celebs belonging to a region who can connect with the locals can be used. At the core you can even have a leader or a social worker to give a reformatory/development centered image or a revolutionary to give a more aggressive one.

In the end the brand that sold more units smiles after the elections.

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