Of Politics, Branding and Marketing

A brand is a promise, not a logo or brochures and banners etc. Whatever a political party promises to deliver is its brand until that promise is kept or broken.

Politicians and political parties need brand strategists as much as they need political strategists. In my opinion, in most campaigns in the recent past especially in Africa, brand strategists were ignored from the get go, because if they weren’t, not many flaws would be visible in political campaigns.

Much has been debated as to whether Political Parties be treated as corporate brands and techniques normally used in product marketing utilized in them.

I say YES, treat them as corporate brands, and then add political strategy.

But why Mengo, isn’t politics is different? Looking at the structure of a political party, I don’t see much difference from a corporate. Just as corporates have CEOs, Political Parties have party leaders, party secretaries etc. the structure is the same. It also can be said that political parties sell intangibles during campaigns, which sometimes are brought to life in the humanization of them by the Party Leader. He/she is the voice of the party.

Especially with the advent of the current digital times, branding is more a requirement than anything else. Political organizations and politicians ought to look at Digital Branding more closely than they ever did. The majority of Africans today are young people and much of their time is spent online. If you don’t have a strategy that can engage them online, you are left out of the movement. Much of the revolts we have seen lately especially the Arab spring were all started online, facebook groups and trending hashtags on twitter were some of the mediums used and the Arab spring happened.

What about the marketing?

Political parties have been marketed in ways so much similar to corporates but their strategy has been more leaning to political science than marketing psychology, which I think could be a game changer to anyone looking to sell themselves as a politician or political organization also utilizing marketing psychology. Whatever strategy it is at the end of the day its all about the person being targeted and what is being sold to them.

Sometimes brand strategy and political strategy can differ a little. While Political brands tend to try and impress majority, most successful consumer, corporate and personal brands tend to be very targeted instead. But looking closely, even political brands ought to attract their very targets, those who carry the same beliefs and ideologies as the party to become the majority then later seek to woo those who are undecided, this is how elections are won.

So much work goes to selling the ideals of the party to the general public but you would realize that most of us buy from the party without even scrutinizing their manifesto to understand what the exact beliefs and ideologies of the parties are. We, especially Africans have been known to vote on ethic lines or even regional blocks but at the same time, politicians have not taken to themselves to educate the electorate and pull them out of this archaic kind of thinking and voting.

How many Politicians do you know that intentionally put out content to educate the public on policies, matters voting, matters that add value to them and help them make good decisions? All they do is ask us to vote for them. Africa is now looking for politicians who are ready to compete on ideas and values. Politicians that would be out to give value and education to the electorate before they seek votes.

I have waited for a long time to see a politician that utilizes the time between elections to grow their influence with giving value and making sense to the electorate but none!

Even more importantly, we need Politicians who deliver on their campaign promises! This is the best kind of branding any political party or politician can ever do!

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