The fundamentals for free or open market competition, as indeed Democracy, are Brand building, growth and development. Free or open market, as a theory, is given expression in distinction, differentiation, individuality and competition, culminating in Value offering; it thrives in an environment of freedom of choice and of expression…the expression of preferences in the face of varying options. Free market or a democratic environment is a convergent point for the seller and the buyer; in which case, the buyer enjoys the enviable advantage of determining the preference from available alternative(s).
On the other hand is Brand and Brand Development.
By definition, a Brand is an offer with a name; a distinct personality. A brand personifies Value offering, certain in its uniqueness. The must for brands is Value. So, we go back to consider the concept of Value.
Value, by the dictionary meaning, is “relative worth, merit, or importance. Another dictionary meaning of value is “the worth of something in terms of the amount of other things for which it can be exchanged or in terms of some medium of exchange.” Value, therefore, is about worth and cost.
The elementary economic theory of ‘opportunity cost and real cost, underlines the meaning of the worth/cost element, fundamental in the choice we make, whether in commercial or political sphere. In political investment buying-decision-making, and within the context of opportunity and real cost, citizens’ choice and vote are resource investment. Each time citizens cast their votes; they make alternative decisions for either the real or opportunity-cost.
From the buy-side, those political parties present for election (and their manifestoes) make up the totality of value-offering in competition for voters’ buying-decision and investment. So, the choice voters make is only same with consumers’ decision at the market place.
The intensity of value expression in decision-making process in political marketing (and brand management) is more evident in developed societies. Leaders’ Debate organised by the BBC on Thursday April 16, 2015, leading to the 2016 general elections in Britain was expository! We saw the series of debates culminating in the election of President Donald Trump in the USA. They all made promises, sold ideological positions and strategic decisions, even intra-party, as in the case of the USA.
In commercial terms, such politico-sales presentations represent brand profiling, marketing and sales activation.
Not to mention their brand properties. In the USA, Hilary Clinton set tongues wagging with her campaign logo, which effectively improved her Brand Equity, engaging its target audience for uniqueness, engagement, and purchase consideration. That much is the power and value of professional brand management in political marketing.
We are considering the benefits of professional Brand Management.
In our article titled Who Manages Your Brand in 2013, we dwelt on the dangers of permitting non-professionals in brand management, ex-raying the inherent dangers for ‘investors’ and consumers alike. The last general elections in Nigeria clearly demonstrated our position, and as the political actors prepare for 2019, we ask the same question: Who Manages Your Brand?
To a large extent, the difference between the All Progressives Congress and Peoples Democratic Party was communication. APC is largely thought to have taken advantage of structured communication system and process with compelling impact on the electorate (not-minding the issues of credibility) as against the PDP – both had no Manifesto, sadly. But the APC took advantage of professionalism and strategic coordination, even though their brand-promise was lacking in Veracity (I no fit shout pass so)!
In practice, every value-offering must be identified by certain unique properties, including its name, corporate identity symbol or sign known as logo, its personality profile, which will include its value essence/promise, positioning statement and unique proposition. A careful distillation of all of the above-listed would systematically see the brand building process through, profitably. As with the commercial brand management situation, our political brands (being political parties) require the services of professional brand management consultants that will scientifically deliver on the following:
Independent brand appraisal (for appropriate equity evaluation and development)
Strategic focussing, planning and execution (plus unbiased SWOT analysis)
Safe competitive analysis
Message development (having established the Single-minded Proposition or Unique Selling Point after a careful consideration of the strategic elements – including research findings)
Creative planning and execution (to determine campaign focus and thrust, identify the campaign requirements, and develop needed concepts as a platform for developing required creative materials)
Media engagement – selection, planning and execution (appropriate media vehicle selection and engagement in line with market/industry insight)
The mistake people make is the over-simplification of this process, because the references are considered common knowledge; everybody thinks these are easy to work out. The truth, however, is that the handling of this seemingly ordinary process requires deep professional engagement. Such wrong assumption is hampering many businesses in our economy, and our democratic process.
Managing political brands is same as managing commercial brands, the convergent point being Value-trading. The concept of “Lovemark” in brand management is based on value-offering. Not minding the nature of our offering, the target market wants to see value, the basis of which choice decisions are made. In turn, the extent of attraction value offer leaves with the target market, determines the extent of target market engagement – whether for voter’s ballot or consumer purchase.
So, while PDP’s TAN was busy erecting billboards with contents much enough to fill one and a half newspaper advert pages all over the place, they did not send out a single message. All of those efforts amounted to waste of time and resources, because the sponsors did not engage professionals.
I heard the APC engaged some professionals to some extent (not verified), but the process managers from that camp were better focused and purposeful. But please where is their manifesto?
Issues-based political campaigns are products of careful professional political brand management. To get to that point, our position is that political parties must be seen and treated as Brands, and managed as such, by professional brand managers. It will help our development as a nation, just as commercial brands pay back in form of higher profitability owing to better market performance. It is called Return On Investment.
We, at MC&A Advertising (then an affiliate of Insight Communications Limited), did it for MKO Abiola and his Social Democratic Party (SDP) way back. The result was highly impactful persuasive campaign message that sold the Brand. As we continue in this journey of political development, we must entrust the brand management to the professionals.
The last general elections in Nigeria clearly demonstrated our position, and as the political actors prepare for 2019, we ask the same question: Who Manages Your Brand?
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