What Are We Voting For?

Forget who you are voting for. The below focuses on the “What” of the campaigns by various political parties. The ‘what’ is observed through the lens of brand marketing. If these political parties were businesses, what would they actually be selling?

Working in advertising or brand marketing will teach you one thing, everything is a brand. So if that’s the case, what kind of brands are the political parties of South Africa?

Whether we are aware or not, the brands we choose are a reflection of who we are and our beliefs. Sometimes it may appear as “not so deep”, but most times, it is that deep.

The brands we love, we do so because they do one thing, they tell us why we should choose them. Or, they way they speak informs our decision to choose them.

What is your favourite brand? Nike? Woolworths? Bathu? Sneaker Lab? Whatever it is, your mind is clear about why you like the brand. The brand resonates with you.

What are our political parties saying to us? Like any brand, political parties have a point of view, an idea or a way of being or thinking about there. We call these proposition. A proposition a is sentiment that makes each brand unique and it attempts to articulate what each brand believes or promises. I will use the “Top 3″* political parties to demonstrate the idea of a proposition.

*Most talked about parties in mainstream media

So, here are some of the political parties’ promises or propositions:

Three (3) Political Parties’ Propositions

ANC – Let’s Grow South Africa Together

I’m not sure what that means, because that sounds like the promise the ANC has been making since 1994, and yet nothing has really happened for South Africans. According to the Human Development Index stats, South African has remained where it was since 1990. Nothing has really changed. Proving the Time Magazine cover to be correct. Levels of inequality have not been balanced. So how are things going to be different together?

Missed opportunity by the ANC

Using brand building as a lens, there was a missed opportunity with the ANC campaign. Firstly, this is an organisation that has been around for over a century. Not many parties can claim that. The President said; “Thuma Mina”, promising a new dawn. At the core of the ANC, they are about people, and I think merging that with the energy of Thuma Mina, could have resulted in a powerful concept that could have garnered an impactful campaign.

Missed Opportunity: There is something powerful about admitting guilt. If you’ve watched Eminem’s 8 Mile, you should know how Eminem won the final battle. He literally trolled himself, leaving the opponent with nothing to throw shade at him. All the ANC had to do was remind people of the roots of the organisation, admit that it could have done better, and then show us what a Thuma Mina South Africa looks like. The campaign was firstly late (I only saw the TVC just a couple of days ago in the month of May), and it didn’t make any use of the equity around Thuma Mina. But alas, I doubt any campaign could undo what’s done.

Brand Lesson: If you are a heritage brand, use some of your brand assets to your advantage. When you are 100+ years old, you have something that is unique and potentially powerful, use it to your advantage. Your equity is so entrenched in people that all they really want to do is to forgive you. Nostalgia is a powerful asset that was not utilised in the campaign.

What? So it is actually unclear what the ANC is selling. So, don’t just say, “Let’s Grow South Africa Together”, tell us what are the KPIs for growth. How will we know that the country has grown?

DA – “ANC Strategy”

The DA’s strategy and campaign is literally based on the ANC’s failed strategies. They are literally promising to fix everything that went wrong under the ANC. I sometimes wonder, if the ANC ran the country impeccably, what would the DA promise the country? Would they not even exist, because it seems as though their only reason to exist is position themselves as the opposite of what the ANC is.

What is DA’s strategy? No-one knows. I doubt that even the DA knows what their strategy for the country is.

Brand Lesson: When building your own brand, have your own strategy. Do not hinge your strategic intentions on what your competitors are doing or in this case, didn’t do. As the kids would say; “Do you boo”. That’s important in the process of building a brand. Have clarity and be focused. If you strategy is based on other people’s failures, what happens if they rectify their faults?

What? It’s also not clear what the DA is selling. They have mentioned a million things, jobs, electricity and a South Africa that Mandela envisioned.

EFF – Jobs & Land Now

In brand marketing, single-mindedness is paramount, in fact, its critical to ensuring that people choose your brand. The EFF’s proposition is clear and simple. Whether you agree or not is besides the point. They have been saying one thing since their inception, “Land”. This simplicity allows people to rally around a single idea. If there’s one party that has been consistent, it is the EFF.

Remember when Martin Luther King said that he had a dream? He had a clear dream, so clear that even today, we talk about that dream.

Brand Lesson: Whatever it is that you are promising as a brand or company, be single-minded and zone in on that thing that makes you different or stand out. The benefit is that those who choose you, do so because they know exactly what they are buying. Be consistent in your messaging, promise and intentions. Believe in what you are selling.

What? Land and jobs now, to achieve economic freedom (which is what the party’s name is about – Economic Freedom Fighters)

So, what will you vote for?

N.B.: None of the above is to support nor tarnish any of the political parties. The purpose is to reveal brand building lessons that can be applied in personal branding or building a company.

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