Thursday, 8 May 2014

Political parties need to learn lessons from successful brands

In twelve months' time the UK goes to the polls in a general election. Over the next year we can expect to see a fair amount of posturing and positioning by political parties in an attempt to win votes. Party political broadcasts, advertising campaigns and PR stunts will be the order of  the day.

Politicians of all colours will go all out to persuade a cynical British public that they are fair and reasonable people who put the interests of the country and its constituent parts first.  We can expect to see a caring approach, an emphasis on family and the average worker and, inevitably, pronouncements on the importance of education and the health service.  It happens every time.

Unfortunately, for many voters these attempts to garner support wear thinly.  Why?  Because political parties consistently fail to recognise that they are to all intents and purposes brands.  And like all brands, if there is a failure to deliver against promises or those promises are so blatantly out of sync with the product or service, the consumer sees through them.

Successful brands understand that their reputations are made and sustained by a continued, consistent focus on a combination of three main elements:
  1. Identity: a clear understanding of what the brand stands for or believes in, reinforced by a consistently expressed personality.
  2. Behaviour: how the brand 'acts' or 'behaves'.  In other words, the relationship it builds with its customers and the experience they have of interacting with the brand, its products, services and people.
  3. Performance: how well the brand delivers against its promise and the value it delivers.
The key message for politicians has to be that no matter how hard you work at defining what you stand for, if you fail to then behave in an appropriate way or fail to deliver against your promises, your reputation will suffer. It's something that great brands have understood for some time.  Isn't it time political parties took note?