The Politics of Branding

With the upcoming Scottish Independence Referendum Keith looks at political brands and values.

We are living through interesting times, of that there is no doubt. Facing the potential catastrophic breakup of the UK whilst also considering the possibility of a nirvana like future for an independent Scotland.

Whether you’re yes or no, the Unionist and Nationalist brands are clamouring for us all to connect with their cause and commit our unwavering support come what may.

Really interesting stuff if you’re a sad old brand man like me.

In my little world the best brands are built on deep truths. Which is never more important than it is today in our ‘authenticity’ driven society, where policed by the wonder of fast moving digital comms, brands need to be whiter than white and deliver on their promises.

Built on solid foundations, history, ethics, unwavering integrity and an irrefutable reason to believe, they stand for something. Their leaders and staff are steeped in their culture. Passionate. Truthful. Engaging. People you can believe in and trust to deliver on their promises. They can articulate a clear simple vision of what they stand for and they gather engaged advocates behind their flag to achieve their vision together.

Now OK, I think we’ve got the passionate leaders bit, but I’m not really seeing much of the rest coming through in spades.

What we are getting is - mud slinging. Innuendo. Half truths. Unsubstantiated dreams. Political rhetoric. No solid, immovable, undisputed facts. Scaremongering. Spin, thinly veiled lies and pretty much total confusion.

Now I’m painting a deliberately extreme picture here and of course it’s greyer than this, but you get what I’m saying. And the thing is, despite all of that, we’re still lining up behind one or the other – based pretty much on who’s telling the most truths! Is it any wonder the country is perfectly divided on the outcome?

If these political ‘brands’ were commercial companies wanting to position themselves for success, any quality branding or management consultancy would be recommending a serious overhaul, from top to bottom. You can only flannel for so long, then the truth will come out, trust will be broken and the advocates you’ve worked so hard to gather will desert in droves. Game over. Company bust.

Of course in this case, if we get it wrong, we can’t switch brands.

Don’t know about you but right now I wish we had the political brands we really deserve with clarity, honesty and the good of all at heart. A clear decision around a clear vision and certainty, or close to it, a pre-requisite.

Good luck to all casting a vote on the 18th of September.