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The most powerful brands, however, are those with a consistent brand voice and visual style that trades as equity when introducing brand extensions or new products. In politics, brand extensions are the ‘story’ told to sell the campaign. Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich’s “Contract with America” is the foremost example of a simple, yet effective story used to create what is basically coherent brand equity. President Obama’s book “The Audacity of Hope” was a strong autobiographical component in the “Hope and Change” story. The trend in corporate America is for powerful

corporate players, such as Procter & Gamble, Pitney Bowes, General Electric and 3M to leverage a cor- porate brand equity that offers consumers quality assurance and name recognition; at the very least as an umbrella quality. Gingrich’s vision, “Contract for America,” sparked a conservative Republican “revolution” mobilizing both fiscal and social conservatives. This “brand- ing” of the Republican Party has been critical to the party’s success in marketing itself as the fiscally disciplined, morally correct, small government, na- tional security guardian of the free world—attribu- tions that haven’t necessarily been earned through actions. But that is the power of branding. So, what are the most effective ways to intro- duce such a coherent brand strategy into a political campaign?

Use Polling Data to Craft Your Message

The well-known axiom, “you can’t manage what you can’t measure” is as true for messaging as it is for anything else. Message development and mea- surement is rooted in research. For example, consider an open congressional seat in New York. A local attorney, Ken William- son, a longtime party activist, throws in his hat into the ring, ready to run in what will certainly be a crowded primary. Our strong recommendation to candidate Williamson, and every candidate similarly situated, is to conduct a poll to assess the political landscape, generally, and to shape messaging, spe- cifically. First, the initial research should seek to measure:

• Campaign awareness (first mention, unaided awareness, top-of-mind and total recall) •Campaign preference • Issue importance/rank in consideration set • Issue relevance

• Emotional connection • Loyalty (what are the loyalists saying that is consistent with the undecideds?) • Campaign imagery

Next, survey questions should be asked that pro- vide information necessary to distinguish candidate Williamson from the gaggle of others by measuring the most important aspects:

• Unaided candidate awareness, particularly first recall • Candidate experience

• Knowledge of campaign potential (what does the average voter have to gain by supporting this candidate) • The perception of delivery against key campaign prom- ises (All candidates promise the world during the race. What is important is that they are not perceived to be promising the world, when they have no intention, or potential to, deliver.) • Accessibility

• Emotional connection (known as brand personality)

Placing all this within an initial poll is quite easy. The survey itself is short. For example, among can- didate experience, simply ask an open-ended ques- tion for those who are aware of Ken Williamson. Campaign potential and perception of delivery can be among a short list of attributes that either de- scribes or rates the candidate. Emotional connec- tion can be shown as a ranking of importance for local issues.

Ask those who are aware of Ken Williamson how

likely they are to vote for Ken Williamson. Then, run a simple regression analysis to assess his brand “equity.” That is those issues or attributes that pop out of the regressions make up the “why” those folks are supporting Ken Williamson.

Comprehensively Integrate Research-Based Messages

Although campaign management and advertising are the more important and visible components of the race, message management is a much more holistic and interdependent specialty. Campaign discipline—relaying a consistent message—is tan- tamount. Effective message integration and discipline for

the Williamson campaign would be facilitated by:

•Creating a well-communicated campaign position state- ment that includes the target audience, the campaign essence, promise, and personality. • Forming a kitchen cabinet, that close circle of friends and advisers the candidate needs to surround him. The kitchen cabinet are those who can tell the candidate what he might not want to hear, what might be difficult for paid staff to bring up. •Conducting campaign communications workshops with the kitchen cabinet.

• Appointing a message czar at the top, or near the top, of the campaign. It is normal, as Election Day nears, for the campaign to become bogged down with the day- to-day tasks. The message czar ensures that Williamson

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