Branding of Political Candidates, their Identities and their Tribes
And how political candidates can ensure their identities don’t get in the way of success
Whether we are talking about a local election for a school board seat or an individual running for Congress, the same goals seem to apply. One of the primary objectives is to stand out from the competition, both visually and philosophically – giving the public a chance to learn who you are and what you’re about.
In most cases, this begins with a candidate’s logo. It serves as a visual representation of not only the candidate but also the people that the candidate hopes to align himself with.
Think about it, when people put an Apple logo on their car, they are not doing it to help promote apple computers, instead, they are saying something about themselves. They are saying that I belong to this tribe, and I want everyone to know about it.
The same goes with political advertising, and the attempt to gather a tribe of like-minded believers – believers that will plant your sign in their yard, or slap your sticker on their car and say, this is my candidate and we stand together.
From a branding standpoint, I would be the first to say that a logo is often just window dressing for what really matters, particularly when it comes to forming emotional connections with those you are trying to connect with. But when it comes to politics, it can be a badge of honor goes much deeper than just a visual reminder.
But before we talk about the good, the bad, and the ugly of political logos, we have to first figure out a few things, like who we are and who it is we are trying to connect with. If these basic questions aren’t answered first, then the greatest logo in the world will eventually fail to do its job.
When it comes to politics, the who are we question will eventually answer the who it is we are trying to reach, but having an understanding of what motivates our base will help form messaging that resonates and inspires.
One of the first steps is to clearly define the problems you seek to address. The second is to provide solutions on how to address them. Sounds simple enough, but far too often politicians fail to do just that, whether it’s based on fear of overpromising, fear of offending one group over another, or the fear of admitting they really don’t have an answer at all.
Building a strong platform that defines who you are and those you hope to serve is better left to political strategists, but communicating your message should always genuine and straightforward – ensuring that your messaging always reflects back to the promise behind your brand.
Once you have this figured out, you can then begin to think about what visuals will best support your message and how to use them to connect with your tribe.
One look at the present Democratic field of presidential contenders, and it is clear to see the battle for differentiation, with each trying to not only stand out, but also define their unique positions and beliefs.
For most, the go-to move is to pull from the stars and stripes palate, and while there is nothing wrong with being patriotic, a bit of originality can provide huge dividends.
That being said, going too far off the reservation can lead to confusion and perceptions of being unqualified. Let’s face it, most people like a sense of stability in their candidates. The key is to find a balance while having a good understanding of those you are trying to reach.
This is where personality comes in to play, and not just political ideology. Carefully chosen colors, along with the right typeface can often evoke a candidate’s character and voice. Are they more folksy and approachable, or do they present themselves with an air of seriousness to get the job done? Does their image alone make you feel connected and inspired?
Remember, having a great image with no substance behind it won’t get you very far. But when your not there to speak for yourself, it’s vital that your image helps promote your unique brand and not look just like everyone else’s.
Just like with any business, product or service, a candidate’s identity should reflect back on their promise at all times, as it works to build both awareness and name recognition.
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