Brand Management & Politics – Lessons from the US Elections

brand management and politics

Taking a cursory look at the US election it is obvious you cannot separate branding from politics, before we even get to US elections we have seen the role brand management played in the last presidential election held in Nigeria, how a ‘staunch’ former General was re-branded and portrayed as highly democratic, the high point of it all was the adaptation of the CHANGE mantra which at that time was all the APC party needed to win the hearts of Nigerians.

Fast forward to 2016, we are also witnessing how brand and brand management played out in politics between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. The 2016 American presidential election appears to be the most intriguing and electrifying of all times, for all the right and wrong reasons. It is very normal in any pursuit for electoral positions for political candidates to try as much as possible to package themselves and sell their candidacy. In the event where there are two strong choices, the ideal thing is to recourse to branding and marketing as a way to get the needed support.

Therefore, it becomes expedient for the respective candidate to define their brand proposition and positioning, while they subsequently craft their long-term vision and strategy. Every political party has an emblem that represent them and what they stand for, this unique identification is critical to the success of any candidate, which is why whenever APC members in Nigeria are going out for a rally (campaign) they go with brooms, branding in politics speaks volume, from your logo to your colors, manifestos, and campaign promises.

Organizations spend a fortune to build and maintain their brands and image. The US election is expected to be the most expensive in history going by what both candidates of the major parties have spent; currently estimated to be $1.5 billion (Bloomberg), however beyond the huge advertising spend there are some brand management lessons we can learn from the US presidential election.

Know Your Ideal Audience

You need to know who your audience are before you launch your campaign. That’s why you’ll never find Trump campaigning hard in Maine or New Hampshire. It’s also the reason you’ll never find Clinton campaigning hard in Texas and Alabama. These states are not where their target audiences are.

target audience us election

Trump’s ideal audience are the racist and white males without a college degree and apparently they represent nearly half of all white voters. If you take a cursory look at Hillary, because of gender her ideal audience are women who happen to be minorities but you know women have a major influence on the society at large. This is something businesses can learn from.

Social Media as a Constructive & Destructive Tool

If there is any candidate that has learnt a lot from Social media during this US election i think it’s Trump, if you don’t know how to use social media as a brand it can be a destructive tool, many times we have seen Trump’s scandal and hate speech went viral on social media. Although both Trump and Hilary have had success in communicating with their supporters through social media, more than once Trump has put his foot in his mouth and damaged his own campaign due to what he posted on Twitter.

social media usage us election


Brand Communication is Essential

One essential lesson you cannot, but overemphasize from this year’s US presidential election is effective communication, many times we have seen Trump ‘miss yarn’ during the presidential campaign, he said so many things he shouldn’t have said in the public, sometimes he uses the ‘F’ word during a presentation. If any brand wants to succeed communication is KEY, you need to tell your audience what they want to hear, after all, most of the adverts we watch on TV are exaggerated. You can’t expect to succeed if you have a complex message that requires a lot of in-depth thought.

Clinton and Donald trump us election

You need a catchy mantra that resonates with your target audience, for Trump it’s “Make America Great Again.” while Hillary’s is ‘we’re stronger together’ whatever messages you are adopting make sure it catches your audience and it is what they can relate with.

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