Breaking Political Branding

Politics aren’t as easy as the 1800s when you could ply your voters by providing enough booze to kill them and hope they hit your name on the ballot box. It involves complex branding and image control. There are degrees based around setting up a good political image. It’s a serious business.

The real question is how much of your vote is based around branding and not candidates? How much should you care? And how much of their speaking is actionable policy?

How Much is a Brand?

BrandingImaging for candidates is heavily controlled and for good reason. If a person never seeks out information they still find imagery. Things like candidate logos printed on pins and t-shirts or even an appealing photo changes what people think about a candidate. Control over the story, content, and directing social shares are also a huge part of political branding. The brand image is huge for determining trustworthiness.

Taking control of the story allows you to present a clear message that can be trusted by consumers. With content and story control, a clear voice from a candidate is about all that’s needed to maintain that branded trust. Inconsistent voice is terrible for consumer trust. That and a message voters want to hear.

Hitting them up with relatable social media much like the czar of Twitter, the infamous D-Trump, and connecting with them are great ways to get a voter-friendly message across. Even if that message is a little odd, like conspiracy theories or that the government is lying to you. If your brand is the forgotten follower, you need to talk and walk like them. And if they love conspiracies, spit that out. Connection is key.

Should You Care?

About some stuff, yeah. The message can be distilled through a brand-face and be inaccurate. But whether or not the face on the billboard is photoshopped to look nicer, probably not. Face doesn’t matter as much as policy or words. Politicians are trained to talk, they probably have the same slick speaking skills as anyone who joined a debate club to benefit their career, but hyped way, way up. That means that some selective, or evasive verbiage should be expected.

A message distilled through a brand-face could mean that instead of saying, “I also doubt the validity of electoral votes in key states because they have been wrong in the past” this message could be filtered into a passive aggressive tweet about “three million illegals voting.” That sort of message spreads hate and inequality instead of actively addressing an issue. The biggest downside of on brand distillation is that it has the potential to distorts the message.

Especially if your brand is about putting other people down or if your brand is about misinformation and spreading false problems (see satanic panic, which helped keep apartheid in place and killed children). Diffusing real issues into nonsense brand speak can make people believe in bad solutions and keep us down as a society.

For example, if you were trying to keep business in your country you might hear a lot of solutions. But what really keeps a business in a country? Tax breaks aren’t the solution.

A well educated work force causes economic boom more than any state policy changes. Affordable or free education is one of the best long-term growth plans for a any country looking to boost its economy. Debt also reduces the return on investment for students. They spend more money on taxes or local goods or houses instead of interest. Student debt is a limiting economic factor that could be taken care of.

That is an actionable solution to economic growth and jobs. It has data available. It has been proven to work in other countries.

Brand-Speak Vs. Actionable Words. Be a Smart Cookie

There is brand-speak and there are actionable words that move people forward. Actionable words are words that are backed by evidence, research, and share a plan for moving a country forward. Brand-speak are things like, “I will be so good at the military your head will spin” or talking about someone’s face instead of their work. Brand-speak sounds like it says something, but it has no movement to it. Both candidates in the recent US election worked on their brand-speak very well by effectively narrowing in on the platform they stood on. It says emotions, but not facts. Which can be somewhat confusing for policy.

It’s great if you need a good cry.

But something that expresses more broad strokes of emotion rather than fixing a problem is not actionable (it won’t get stuff done). Splitting apart brand-speak and actionable words (which might be in the same sentence) can help you make smart choices as a voter and leave you less vulnerable to “propaganda-speeches.”

Some Great Tips and Tricks:

Look for facts:

If in article form, look for links, follow them until you find the source (should be a reliable source).

Bad Ex:

If in a speech, do a quick Google search:

Ex:

http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/article/2016/sep/27/trump-clinton-first-debate-fact-checks/

Weigh Solutions

Is there significant harm in a solution? Is the harm real?

Use Examples:

-How has this policy worked in other 1st world countries?

-Has it worked on a state level?

-Does it create any unnecessary boundaries for individual rights?

Talk it out

You don’t know everything. I don’t know everything. We are both probably wrong about mountains of things. And might miss information. See what other people think. It’s a smart idea to pick someone who directly disagrees with you and try to let them convince you. Because they might be right.

Tip: If they are wrong, part of their argument could have merit. Don’t ignore a whole statement because parts are wrong. Some parts could be viable.

 

Brand voice and actionable policies can be very different. Don’t find yourself tricked by a politician’s personal brand.
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M. Wilson- Not BlurryMary Grace landed in beautiful Boise, Idaho after a year living in the forest. She adores hiking, skiing, and fighting for the rights of the proletariat. Tweet her @marmygrace, or email her directly at marmgrace@gmail.com if you have any questions or concerns.