What did we learn from the election?

Geoff - 4 th June 2015

Having had a week or so to reflect on the UK’s recent general election it has been interesting to consider some learning for brand alignment.

My guess is that most people in the country didn’t feel as if any of the ‘big brands’ managed to cover themselves with glory. So what are the learnings that other brands might take from the whole episode?

Don’t waste your time trying to make the opposition look worse than you
It is pretty clear that people were rather sick of one brand telling us how bad the other brand was doing. That’s even harder to do when you don’t have that much brand equity of your own and even worse, most of the market don’t trust your brand or even your ‘category’. Of course that’s unlikely to happen in the commercial world but then look at the high street supermarkets. They don’t exactly criticize their competitors but the plethora of ‘we are cheapest’ claims have worn a little thin over time. This is especially futile when a brand like ALDI seems to have spent its time owning this value by behaving in alignment to it and then letting the others argue amongst themselves.

Be mindful of the company you keep
Most businesses have to create partnerships on which to do business. These partners might be sponsors or delivery partners and you have to choose them wisely. I suspect most of the electorate were thinking about a coalition so were looking very closely at who the main brands were likely to work with. Their partners say something about them as a brand (however they may claim otherwise) and it was clearly part of the decision making process for voters. Whether it’s the outsourced catering partners for sports venues or IT support for service companies, who you choose will say something about your brand. Customers will notice and it will influence their decisions.

Research is not insight
Asking the wrong people simple questions is not insight. Good brands know who they need to talk to and find ways to understand how they are feeling and what is motivating them. The pollsters got it wrong but perhaps the majority of people who want to voice their opinions early are not reflective of the bigger population. Segmentation of audiences, working hard to talk to them and digging deep to get real insight is the only way to judge the mood of your market.

Beware of PR stunts
Good PR can get you air time but bad PR can damage your brand in the long term. It would be unfair to mention any specifics of the election campaign but I bet you can all think of a few cringe worthy moments. I suspect they will come back to haunt those brands for many years to come.

Never think you have won the brand battle
As in elections there is always a winner at any moment in time. It seems pretty clear that the country is now asking the winning brand (and the rest) to deliver on their promises. We know that if they don’t, the brand will be undermined and ultimately the market will move against them.

Geoff is a director of Brand Vista and is an integral part of the original team. He brings not only marketing skills but also those of business improvement and change management. With his eclectic background of marketing and business improvement, Geoff is ideally placed to help brands get the very most out of a Brand Alignment project.
Find out more about Geoff