Branding

can do a lot for politics, even if it is based exclusively on communication, and not always well managed. Personal branding, endorsement with personalities or engagement with the public are very common terms for brand managers. The pity is that political parties, in our country, are far from being effectively managed as real brands.

Political parties, supposedly by and for the population, are today articulated as private clubs of their managers, a group of members who share the strictest sense of belonging and the denial of anyone who does not share the same opinion. An approach that is totally contrary to having the citizen at the centre of its strategies.

Like any brand that has reached its final life cycle, the old parties need a complete regeneration if they want to survive the storm in which the new formations dispute their privileged position in the market. After the constant scandals, even its supporters are not willing to continue defending an acronym that has come to shame them. Ideology, the pillar on which all formations have been sustained, is replaced by a necessary term in the management of any brand: reputation. Although perhaps more than a regeneration, in many cases a complete discontinuation and a launch of a new product, even if it was of the same brand, would be preferable.

Faced with this, the strategy of the parties is to stop promoting their acronyms by giving priority to the names of their candidates, in an attempt to conceal their most recent failures to promise their brands. But building a brand is something that takes time and a careful strategy. Unlike other brands that seek the public’s continued trust, political brands seem to be focused only on gaining trust every four years, when the ballot box becomes the best indicator of sales and trust.

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The functional purpose of branding is to identify a differential promise about a brand’s values, and to communicate it coherently and consistently to consumers. The political parties have failed miserably in transmitting this brand promise, achieving the total loss of the trust of the citizens. Since, moreover, this loss is not exclusive to any party, but transversal, what has been achieved is a loss of trust towards all of them.

In the absence of a clear promise, only backing their messages by generalist ideologies, the parties insist on discourses of fear and the discrediting of the opposite. But what would happen in the outside world if Pepsi were obsessed with telling us how bad Coca-Cola’s ingredients are for our bodies? Or if Volvo insisted on repeatedly telling us what would happen to us after an accident in another brand’s car?

Fortunately, the population is not stupid and chooses those brands with which they feel identified, that have taken care to build a positive dialogue and that really mean something special. A totally neglected aspect by our political brands.

Notice how during the recent economic crisis the only tone present in any news program has been negative. Months and months of pessimistic and negative information that have caused the population to stop being interested in these messages, even decreasing the audiences of the television news or the sales of newspapers. It’s clear that negative messages don’t get followers outside their lines. Politicians should learn that they should communicate not only to those who vote for them, but above all to those who do not vote for them, just like any brand that tries to enter the home of new consumers.

Even when we vote against something, people want to vote for a clear alternative, just as people prefer brands that offer something and not just those that avoid something.

Nothing happens by accident. Even if we go from parties to politicians, or in other words, from brands to branded products, it is necessary to build an emotional connection between the product and the customer. And that’s something that doesn’t just happen during a campaign (even if it’s an election campaign). It is high time that political parties take good note of what good brand management means and what it can do for them.

 

Carlos Puig Falcó

President of Branward®

Photos: Shutterstock