We are about to see the unedifying sight of our political parties trying to polish their brand images ready for an election. It brings me back to the two types of brand knowledge: the declarative, pragmatic knowledge that we handle consciously, by high-involvement processing and then the emotional, meta-knowledge that we do not handle at a conscious level but use low-involvement processing. The former type of knowledge is assembled by our perceptions and is susceptible to communications, including advertising and PR messages. But still there is our emotional view of the parties which cannot easily be manipulated even by the cleverest of campaigns.
As with all brands it is about core values, and I am concerned that our current distrust of politicians of every stripe may have seriously blunted the effectiveness of any brand communications in the coming round. Our emotional representation of their core values may prove to be more powerful than any overt messages.
It looks like being a very interesting few months and my gut feeling is that the successful parties will be the ones who take those core emotional values as a starting point and build their communications upon them. Anyone who starts with the approach of, ‘Trust me…’ is off on the wrong foot, I’m afraid.