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Branding Lessons From the Presidential Conventions

Branding Lessons From the Presidential Conventions
Image credit: Olya Steckel | Shutterstock

I’ll be honest and say that I didn’t watch much of either presidential conventions on television this year. I couldn’t bear the banter and the chaos running wild, to tell you the truth. But I did follow it religiously, reading and absorbing all of the presentations the next day, on my own terms. I certainly care a lot about the politics, because after all my family has a lot at stake with the next president. Just like most families have a lot at stake.

I also couldn’t help but pay attention to the branding, and there is a lot to be learned about branding and marketing from the RNC and the DNC. Like I always say, “marketing is a spectator sport,” so let’s learn from these two events.

Here are a few thoughts.

1. Order out of chaos.

Good branding brings together what seems like disparate pieces into one cohesive, controlled, emotionally based, compelling message. Both conventions started out in sheer chaos, for different reasons, with messaging and imagery that neither candidate seemed to be able to control. By the end of each week, there was a bit more order and a clearer distinction on what both candidates are all about. Their “brands” finally shone through once some of the chaos subsided.

Related: The Right Way to Start Branding Yourself Right Out of College

Lesson: As the supreme manager of your brand, it’s your job to bring order out of the chaos of conflicting priorities, mixed messages, and constant deadlines. Align your work around your brand for maximum effectiveness and your customers will have a good understanding of what your brand offers and how your brand can add value to their lives.

2. User-generated content.

Both candidates wisely rely on their constituents to do their talking and sharing for them. Peer-to-peer dialogue, debate and recommendations are often more effective than when the brand talks about itself and that certainly seemed to play out in the conventions.

Related: It's Not You, It's Your Story: Why Branding Matters

Lesson: It’s ok to let others do the talking for your brand. Just equip them with some tools and messages to make it easy to create and share the right information. Social media is on your best channel for this approach.

3. Say it in a hashtag.

Clarity and brevity are keys to good marketing and the hashtag has never made it easier to create clear, memorable messaging in the space of a few characters. Both candidates expertly use hashtags not only in social media but also in getting their messages to stick. And they again allow others to do some of the hash tagging for them, making it even more effective. We’ve never seen more clear and concise political messaging ever…take #CrookedHillary or #TheRealOne as just two examples.

Related: The 6 Biggest Branding Errors Most Startups Make

Lesson: If you can’t say it in a hashtag, then you don’t have a compelling brand platform or marketing campaign. Challenge yourself to focus your message and make it as memorable and sharable as a hashtag.

Perhaps you’ve never thought about using politics as a way to improve your branding. I would wager a bet that indeed politicians are among the ones to watch when it comes to branding. The good, the bad, and the ugly can all be learning opportunities for you to improve your own marketing. After all, marketing is a spectator sport.