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It struck me this morning that the US presidential candidates probably are the fastest built brands in the world. In just a couple of months they become strong global brands. The irony is that all of these new brands except one, probably Romney, will soon start to fade away.
A lot of us Europeans follow not only our own elections but also the US ones. And the US presidential race is in many ways a more fascinating show than our own, comparably duller elections. Since an election in a democracy is all about communication, I think it's interesting to look at it from a brand perspective.
What was the global brand recognition for "Romney", "Gingrich" and "Paul" say six months ago? Probably close to zero. Today at least Romney and Gingrich are well known brands even outside the US.
A commercial brand could never hope to get this kind of brand recognition in such a short time. How can these brands be built so fast? The reasons are pretty obvious:
- Press coverage - The amount of PR these brands get is unheard of. They dominate the news in the US and get a lot of attention in the rest of the world. If a commercial brand gets this kind of press, it's probably in big trouble (think Enron, Lehman Brothers)
- Money spent - Romney has +$56 million USD in his pocket to fight Obama's $100 million. Gingrich has only 5 Million...
- Message importance - We, the audience, care about these brands right away because what they say matters, it could affect our lives. Most brands can't achieve this kind of "engagement level" in their first couple of years.
Democracy must cost, but from a branding perspective it's hard not to think that all this money and effort could be spent slightly different. There are two big brands that seem to live completely in the shadow of the presidential candidates: the Republican Party and the Democratic Party.
There you have two brands that won't fade away any time soon, but they are surprisingly weak in the election process.
These two brands suffer from classical branding problems, like weak differentiation and lack of relevance and drive. An interesting analysis even compares the brand "the Republican Party" with "New Coke".
I believe a shift towards stronger and more differentiated "umbrella brands", like Republican and Democrat, would both serve the long-term democratic process and the more temporary brands of the presidential candidates.
In this blog I will mostly write about two subjects:
1. Trademarks, domain names, naming and branding - Four separate areas that often are not that separate.
2. Markify news - Features, markets, pricing, challenges etc.
Feedback and questions are always welcome. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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