Branding lessons from the 2016 Australian federal election.

Last week’s Australian Federal Election turned out to be much closer than expected, with the result taking more than a week to become clear.

There is a lot in common with winning elections and building brand value, which is why there are always branding lessons around election time. The fundamentals are identical actually. Clearly defined purpose, vision and values. Distinct positioning. Clarity of message. Building trust by meeting customer expectation…

Much has been written in the washup, dissecting the outcome and possible reasons behind it. The recent edition of The Saturday Paper published what I thought was an insightful article highlighting the effectiveness this election of GetUp! and, to an extent, Labor’s campaign strategies for communicating with voters, changing perceptions and winning votes.

It’s well worth a read.

In essence, it highlighted that the personalised approach of getting on the phone or knocking on doors and getting ‘person-to-person’ with people was more effective than traditional media and mass communication this election.  As the article points out;

These methods of contacting electors are far superior to other ways of getting the message across such as direct mail, which is also very expensive, or so-called “robocalls” in which parties subject constituents to recorded phone messages. Indeed, there is growing evidence that robocalls actually alienate a lot of voters.

“Robocalls are about broadcasting a message, which is a very analog way of communicating,” Carson says. “It’s the politician or the party doing the talking, not the listening, whereas when they do the door knocks or the phone calls, they very much gear it the other way.

“They lead the voter to a certain point and then stop and listen, and try and gather as much information as possible. That then re-informs their campaign and their messaging and also leaves the person who has been called feeling that someone understands them. And that is persuasive.”

The lesson here for brands and marketers is a reminder that branding is a people to people proposition, something that can often be lost or buried under marketing plans, sales strategies and advertising campaigns.  While ‘for profit’ brands don’t have access to hundreds of volunteer brand ambassadors to door knock and phone call potential customers all year round, they should be looking for opportunities where they can engage their audience in person.

That means creating experiences for people that get your brand’s message out there.

For B2B brands it’s about focussing on creating more belief and belonging within your own people, so they can get out there in front of prospects or get on the phone and create the right brand experience for your customers/clients. For product brands, it’s about creating opportunities for customers to interact with your brand in an engaging and memorable way. Hold your own event, or get involved in one where your customers are going to be. Why not create a pop-up? Make it your goal to give people an experience they can talk about with their friends, share with their social networks, or simply just remember next time they’re in a position to purchase.

As traditional media channels get noisier and noisier, we are all becoming a little desensitised because we all expect to be marketed to via traditional and digital media every single day. So do something unexpected. Take some of that marketing budget, get creative, and get out there ‘people to people’ with your brand.



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