Today image is everything – from LeBron James to Apple. Image is what it takes to stand out and win. When you’re talking about someone’s image you’re talking about the brand called You: the impression in the public’s mind of Donald and Hillary’s total personality – their real and imaginary qualities including their shortcomings –because people tend not to forgive people but they forgive brands all the time. Just look at the outrageous things Trump has said.
Trump and Clinton’s brand image is the publics view of them. They’re every bit as much a brand as Nike, Coke or Subway. Because of the Trump brand in this election it makes the case for brand image more directly than any packaged good or consumer product ever could.
Teflon Don has been a brand for years and Hillary needs to behave more like one to conquer that ultimate question why should I care about you? Today she needs to communicate what makes her remarkable, measurable, and distinguished with unique value? It’s a cliché: don’t sell the steak sell the sizzle.
He’s selling the sizzle, the one-liners. He doesn’t have the detail, we all know he hasn’t really communicated well anything about domestic and foreign policy.
Hillary has all the detail, but lacks the sizzle. Hillary has spent her entire life doing public service. She’s spent her whole adult life under the microscope and yet she continues to want to make change, to better the lives of each and every American. And yet she still comes under doubt, scrutiny and distrust. People at the RNC Convention shouting, “lock her up” was unprecedented. There is a poster going around that says, “Hillary, for Prison 2016”. Emotions run so deep and the way Trump has run his campaign has only made those divisions deeper. Hillary doesn’t fight like that. It’s the antithesis of who she is as a person yet her rallying cry does not resonate in the same way.
Brand image is not marketing it’s about who you are. It’s about personality and it goes well beyond politics. Brands are about connecting with people emotionally; to get that emotional connection you need to have trust and respect. Trump has earned it from his followers. Hillary can’t seem to gain that traction. She needs to build her brand power because one of the things that attract us to brands is the power they project. Power is largely a matter of perception so what’s Hillary’s power of “influence” and her “reputational“ power? Today Hilary needs to break out from being the famous person you don’t know.
The shock and awe of Trump’s statements early in his campaign justified the frothing fulmination of the media, but the initial shock and awe has dissipated and Brand Trump has proven to be a credible Presidential candidate so he’s bigger than ever and as much as his remarks outrage, they don’t seem to faze his fans. Trump is like a Chrysler 300; big and powerful while Hillary is more like a Lincoln MKZ with more style and quality.
Trump can keep banging the drum and be consistent on what made his campaign successful just like an ad campaign with a core, consistent message repeated over and over again. He’s got a rallying cry. What has been Hillary’s stump pitch?
Hillary has a no nonsense approach and is talking about the nuts and bolts of getting America off its rear end and helping Americans live a better life, but it’s not clear. After she was ill she’s said that she has had time to reflect and now she needs to deliver her campaign to swing voters with more energy and act more like a challenger brand that can flank Trump head on. Her idea of moving America forward needs to be framed more than just Obama redux. We don’t want to move we want to accelerate. And yet Obama had a stump pitch, he had a rallying cry, he had the campaign of Hope and lots of America loved it, twice.
Today is the final clash of the titans and one of the many challenges faced by Trump and Clinton is effectively defining their true vision and values for the public, especially those who are undecided. This has not been a quick or easy process because they’re not just defined by the Commander in Chief job title or the job description.
There are four things they’ve got to measure themselves against. First, they’ve got to have strong beliefs, which they do. Second, they’ve got to be an exceptional expert in matters that are important to America and they both are. Third, they’ve got to be
a visionary — a true leader and they are. Fourth, they’ve got to be obsessed with pragmatic outcomes and that’s where Hillary’s has it in spades.
Today Hillary needs to take the
15-words-or-less stump pitch challenge. Hillary has constantly compared herself to Trump and how different they are. Rather than focus on Trump, she should be just speaking about who she is at her core and what she will do. Her brand needs to be a promise
of the value we’ll receive.