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What Brands can learn from Political Strategy

In the UK, the General Election is well and truly underway. Behind the rhetoric sit some of the most adept, innovative and well-funded marketing teams in the world. In their output, we have identified three trends that have learnings for all brands, not just political ones.

ONE: People want brands that are more multifaceted than ever before

Theresa May’s ‘Strong and Stable’ catchphrase is getting a fair bit of disdain across the UK. While it is built on a solid strategic foundation, its repetition has bored the public.

Amongst the resulting parodies, there’s a key lesson. In a digital age where media exposure has increased infinitely, message fatigue happens faster than ever. Brands can no longer stand still, or rely on a single message. More than ever, they have to be multifaceted, complex and reflective of more dynamic, two-way conversations.

TWO: Digital Channels become easier to use with a strong definition

Social media has become an ever more important component of creating an effective brand. Two uses of this during the campaign are particularly revealing. Both show that the real power of digital isn’t just pushing out your own content; it lies in the ability of digital to communicate for you when you can’t.

The first is Labour’s grassroots movement. While the main party halted campaigning following the Manchester bombing, its networks of supporters on social media remained active (though respectful), keeping the conversation going. Was this a factor in Labour’s resurgence in the polls around the same time? Possibly so.

The second is an impressive example of how digital can help even when a campaign goes awry. As the Conservative’s so-called ‘dementia tax’ started to attract negative attention, the party used Google Ads to ensure the top return for the phrase was a message directly from them. Not only did this reinforce their own message, it also helped parry perceptions they didn’t want.

THREE: Becoming data driven requires intuition more than anything else

Brexit has been at the core of this year’s election, but not in the way expected. The Lib Dem strategy of attempting to be the ‘remain party’ has largely backfired. While the data suggested many voters wanted to remain in the EU, the party’s analysis of it failed to spot a crucial insight. Namely that among those who wanted to remain, only a small percentage felt Brexit should be stopped.

By standing as the party for ‘remainers’, the Lib Dems were actually only appealing to a minority. While data is clearly a useful tool, a key lesson can be learnt from this. It’s not always how good your data is; it’s how good your questions are.