Your Name is Your Brand Name
Political campaigns and product marketing/advertising campaigns are similar in many ways. In these terms, the campaign or the candidate (you) are a brand being marketed to the voters. With that in mind, the root of any brand is the product’s name. Names matter in politics as much if not more than they do in commerce.
- Your name says a lot about you before you even open your mouth.
- Usually, you don’t get to choose it.
- What sounds good, might not look good on paper.
- Your name is a direct link to your identity.
In politics, your name is your brand name. When voters go to vote, the only thing listed about you on their ballot will be your name (and party, if applicable). That’s why positive and wide brand/name recognition is so important in a political campaign.
In business and in politics you must:
- Define your brand
- Protect your brand
- Proliferate your brand
To determine how to best address your name as a brand in the context of your campaign, you need to evaluate 8 questions:
- What type of race is this?
- What is the makeup of the voting demographic?
- Is this a high profile race or a low profile race?
- What is your general name recognition amongst likely voters?
- How do voters perceive your name?
- Is your community familiar with your name?
- What connotations does your name carry?
- Is your name difficult to say?
How to Position Your Name
Knowing the answer to the 8 questions above will give you a default strategy to approach branding and positioning your name. Very generally (assuming high name recognition is generally positive or neutral and low name recognition is neutral and not taking into account your opponents), here are a few basic name positioning strategies by generic situation:
> High Name Recognition / Low Profile Race:
Need to define your campaign and name as the best choice. Focus on credibility enhancement, no need for name gimmicks.
> High Name Recognition / High Profile Race:
Best to focus on issues and credibility. Focus on issues and positively defining your campaign/credibility, protect your brand.
> Low Name Recognition / Low Profile Race:
Ballot name very important. Focus on name ID and less on specific issues (unless it enhances name ID).
> Low Name Recognition / High Profile Race:
Promote your name in connection with a strong brand identity. Define and proliferate your brand – perhaps in contrast to that of your opponent.
Of course it’s important to remember, each race has its own idiosyncrasies and factors to consider and your campaign strategy should be about capitalizing on those factors.
However if you are facing name issues (very unusual, difficult to pronounce, no name recognition, etc.), here are a few basic rules to keep in mind:
- The image and credibility of your campaign’s brand should be protected and maintained. In dealing with name issues, avoid doing something too-cute-by-half that could undermine or demean the brand or the office you are seeking. Your goal is to enhance your brand and your brand’s recognition with voters.
- Most of the time name recognition is not a given, it is earned. Do yourself a favor and engage with your community early (way before your campaign) and earn some level of notoriety, so that your name already carries some weight.
- Remember: Your messaging has limited bandwidth. The more bandwidth you spend conditioning voters to your name, the less time you have to focus on other themes. Keep in mind this trade-off and balance your messages, media, and interactions appropriately. Ideally, you are able to make your name synonymous with the positive themes you wish to advance.