How to Get Elected with an Improved Brand Image
Just few months to 2019 general elections in Nigeria, the political space is all heated up with positive and negative narratives flying all over the place. Some narratives well fit into the realities of the time therefore appeals to the general public emotions. But other kinds of narratives are absolutely lost and forgotten.
What is it that makes an election thick? Is it about the negativities and the mud-slinging? things that voters won’t remember three months down the line? Well, it’s all about the candidates involved in the elections, what they say, how they are perceived and how they portray their character and how they are judged in the court of public opinion. Perception is everything!
Interestingly, some young Nigerians have indicted interest to participate in the 2019 elections, haven been energized by the recent passage of the Not Too Young to Run Bill. So, here are some rules of brand management that can apply to election campaign management.
Dipsticks and brand image research
Who you say you are doesn’t matter, it is who people say you are that counts. This is the crux of the matter. The difference between self-perceived identity and actual brand image lies in a well conducted brand image research or brand health check. This check will reveal hidden weakness as well as hidden strengths. This would be diagnostic kind of check that will throw up pleasant and unpleasant surprises. This is where to start, go get your self checked against what you anticipate or expect to or prefer to be seen as.
Community Needs and Brand Essence
Every product exists to solve a problem. In this light, every political ambition should be built around an identified or identifiable need. There should be a need that exist which you eager and capable to meet. Finding a purpose and your building brand essence around it is key to victory. Adopting a cause and following through is mandatory. This should lead to a clear statement of brand purpose cleverly crafted to appeal to the target or electorate in a way that they can connect with you. Without a clearly stated brand essence, it will be difficult to tell what cause you are pursuing or what problems you are desirous to solve. If you cannot find a good cause to pursue or identify an existing problem that you can help solve, there is no point putting yourself up for election.
Culture code and voter’s identity profiling
Every voter follows a certain culture code and behavioral pattern as dictated by the prevailing and dominate issue at the time. In Nigeria, most often, religious and ethnic issues trump the economy, job creation, etc. when the chips are down, majority of voters in rural Nigeria reduce their voting rights to ethnic and religious activism. It is important not to undermined this pattern but to flow with it. It is also very important not to speak above the sensibility of any religious or ethnic orientation while also being careful not to align too much to it. Behaviors that can harm the image of an aspirant from a religious or ethnic angle can be very deeply disturbing. Just as in traditional brand building, every brand should understand the existing culture codes and seek to align its values, characters and context to such prevailing orientation so that the brand’s truth can still be evidently seen when looked at through the prism of ethnic and religious standard.
Color identity and appeals
Colors are powerful and convey certain appeals that can be applied to demystify a brand, its personality and predominant character. Every politician or political figure much align himself or herself and campaign to strong colors that would not only be bold and outstanding but must as a matter of expression and design depict his or her character. Color consistency is also very crucial. At every stage and situation that the political actor is encountered, there should be a constant reflection of same colors. Such colors as red, yellow and white convey positive and strong image. There are certain assumptions that colors can have psychic values if harmoniously deployed. For a brand to stand out, perfect and harmonious selection of colors which are consistently deployed is very crucial. This will help in sending the right message to electorates and general public. Use the right colors for your logo and other brand appearances.
What is your message? Every campaign must have a message and that message needs to be consistent. It would be right to have a clear and unambiguous brand message built around a Unique Selling Proposition (USP) that can be a drawn down from a well-articulated manifesto. Without a clear and consistent message, the audience would be left in doubt as to what you actually stand for. Your message must be a factor of and draw from all element highlighted about. Without a strong, clean and clever message it will be difficult to break the parity and achieve the much-needed differentiation.
Fresh identity and new image
Freshness is key to convey frankness. If your identity is not fresh and new every time, it will become boring overtime. Some politicians will master a line and keep on reechoing same line all through their campaign speeches so much that the electorates can predict what they want to say next. That is not fresh. You can stay on the same clear message but bring in new perspective all the time. Same with designs and creative manifestations, these all need to be refreshed but keeping the core brand elements like color and pay offs consistent.
Forward thinking brand
Innovation is a major differentiator. You must demonstrate that you are forward thinking through clever application of creative solutions to questions posed by voters. It won’t help you to think in general terms; thinking must be specific and future oriented. A forward-thinking brand would most likely gain more confidence compared to a laid-back brand. Future forward thinking is a key differentiator.
Human appeal and Believability
Emotion is a very vital currency. It is very important to appeal to emotions of the electorates in a clever way without evoking pity or sentiment. Secondly, any brand that makes a promise that is not believable is on its way out of the consumers mind. Believability is a key factor. To convey believability, there must be consistency in character, thoughts and action and you must make claims that are verifiable. If your claims can’t be verified it means that you are a liar. And a lying brand is a dying brand. To convey reliability, you must also rely so much on data, numbers and statistics. Numbers don’t lie and if you show good understand and application of data-based facts and draw predictions from such use of data, chances are high that you will be considered brilliant and acceptable.
Differentiate or die
A brand that fails to differentiate must surely die inside the cluster. Differentiation is not just about color and messages but should be seen in purpose, process and presence of your brand image. You just have to standout from the rest. A well differentiated brand will last longer in the minds of voters. A powerful logo can be a great differentiator.
Tone of voice and share of voice
Jingles, press ads or billboards must maintain a simple and easily recognizable tone. You must decide the way your want to speak, what is referred to as the brand-speak. Most importantly, your tone must be convincing, truthful and empathic. It must not be derogatory or ambiguous. You must also desire to be seen and heard using all relevant media platform to put forward your thoughts and ideas. This can be through paid adverts, articles in newspapers, appearances at thought leadership events, speeches at industry events, photo opportunities, personality interviews and others.
Finding a Catch Phrase or Keyword
There should be a slogan, a call to action and pay off line that summaries all that a candidate stands for and the goods you seek to deliver. It may just be one word that captures the brand essence. For instance, HOPE’93 simply was the platform that delivered the MKO campaign. It ca
n be one word, or a phrase but should be less that four words, if possible. It should be memorable and good cliché
Branded Online Presence
Online presence must show real presence because this will impact on how your brand is perceived. Online presence must be seen in how you respond quickly to issues, currency of information on all your social media platforms, regular and consistent postings and updates. Keeping followers aware all the time. This must also reflect the right tone of voice, friendly, nice and welcoming. Much of the public relations work will be done online and will also serve as an engine for aggregation of all offline and online conversations.
Online presence must maintain same consistency in color and content as well as tonality. Website, Facebook, twitter, Instagram blog, etc., all these must speak one in voice and one tone, no dissonance or disconnections. All taken together, victory in forthcoming elections for aspirants will require resilience and strong brand identity that is built over a long time and sustained afterwards.
Victor Ikem is a specialist in marketing, culture and communication
Contact Ikem on: firstname.lastname@example.org