Why politicians are a branding nightmare: lessons for business

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Election campaigns are perfect examples of the affect individuals can have on a big brand, and what can go wrong.

Brands and businesses should heed warning from election campaigns (both here is Australia and overseas) and learn from political parties about the impact the ‘face’ of you brand can have.

Let’s be honest, I think the Republicans are starting to regret letting Donald Trump behind the microphone.

Back here in Australia we have also had plenty on cringe-worthy moments. It may be a few years old but the 2013 Rudd v Abbott stouch is a great example of two people doing their parties a disservice.

Neither Kevin Rudd or Tony Abbot represented the brand of their political parties well.

Political party leaders demonstrate almost daily how their actions can affect the party brand.

Behind-the-scenes behaviour, personal values and prejudice, and poorly-timed comments on both sides have reflected on the party brands.

For example, Kevin Rudd’s pre-interview antics towards a Brisbane makeup presented him as a rude and disrespectful individual.

It did not put the Australian Labor Party brand in good stead having their leader branded rude.

Similarly, Tony Abbott referred to one of his female candidates as having ‘a bit of sex appeal’. It made the Coalition front page news for days, and not in a good way!”

Business owners should take note because it’s not just happening in politics, it’s rife in the private sector as well.

Every piece of communication a business has, like marketing brochures, websites, social media, customer interaction and business correspondence, can make a difference. All of these elements have a cumulative affect on the brand and how it’s viewed by people.

The trouble is that most people see each activity in isolation and there is no strategy to bind them and guide communication overall. This can lead to ad hoc activities and rogue behaviour.

If you are looking to appoint a ‘face’ or spokesperson for your brand or business, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do your values align? Do the values of the individual align with those of your brand? If they are inconsistent, don’t go there. It’s not worth the potential damage to your brand.
  • Is their online presence going to reflect well on you? Are they the perfect option during the week but their weekend antics get plastered all over the internet (and not in a good way)?
  • Are they measured and level headed? This individual is likely to be under pressure at times, so you need to know if they can take the heat. Can they remain calm and in control when challenged, and do they receive feedback, criticism or negativity gracefully. You’re entrusting this person with your brand in good and bad situations.
  • Will they allow their personal views and opinions to influence their role? Assess their character and how they’ve conducted themselves in the past. If you’ve never done a reference check or enquired about a candidate previously, now’s the time to start.
  • If things did go wrong, what are the likely impacts to the brand? Going into these types of arrangements all parties are thinking of the best-case scenario, however you must think about the worst case as well. Why? It allows you to plan ahead and mitigate any potential impacts.

There are plenty of infamous examples of brand ‘faces’ gone wrong include:

  • Oscar Pistorius (murder) and Nike
  • Martha Stewart (fraud) and Kmart
  • Professional rugby league players (various antics and scandals) and the NRL
  • Tiger Woods (sex scandal) and his numerous sponsors
  • Lance Armstrong (doping) and the LiveStrong Foundation.

These are just a few of many, many examples of how the values and actions of an individual can impact a brand or business.

If you want to find out more about effectively managing your brand and other communication activities, contact us via email at hello@exaltpr.com.au

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This article was written by ExaltPR

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