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Friday, December 21, 2012

Why Republicans Are Losing The Brand War (Along With The NRA)

You don't have to be a genius to see what's going wrong with a brand or reputation. Or even how to fix it.

But you do have to have the courage to tell the client. 

And because the client can fire you - they have a lot of money, power and yes, ego at stake - there's a lot of incentive for courage to fade away.

Clearly the Republicans are what you would call a "challenger" brand. Similarly the National Rifle Association, in the aftermath of the tragic school massacre in Connecticut, is fighting and losing its very own brand war. 

I put them together because they're ideologically aligned, and they're making similar mistakes.

A very good and classic book about how challenger brands fight to win is called "Eating the Big Fish" by Adam Morgan.  Here are some ideas derived from the book, in my own spin. It's worth reading the original.

  • Redefine Yourself: Whatever you were doing before, is not working. Right now the Republicans look like people Democrats don't like and say mostly negative things that the public does not want to hear. "Break with the past."
  • Connect Emotionally and then Own It: Republicans act like they are selling life insurance, not building a relationship. Where is the feeling? How do they connect? Is gun ownership a positive thing? Why? The heart strings are lacking.
  • Be The Brave Underdog: Go to the movies. See Red Dawn, or Step Up Revolution. Republicans come across rich, retro, wealthier than you and me - unrelatable. Where are the fighters, like the girl in "The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo" or the one in "The Hunger Games?" Actually a female in the lead, minorities in the lead, anyone but Rich White Males would be useful.
  • Look For Arrogance & Complacency: Inevitably the dominant warrior will grow fat, happy and lazy on the land. That is exactly the time to to pull an Apple out of your hat. (Again, watch and learn - from those great Mac vs. IBM commercials.)
  • Unapologetic Ad Blitz: The Republicans seem afraid of their own shadow. If their ideas are better, why? Mass communication requires advertising of a unique, relevant convincing idea on a mass scale. As far as the NRA goes, they seem to be speaking only to themselves and to allow a ranter and raver speak for them.
It's not all that complicated to see how these ideas could work. But it's easy to see that they would not be easy for the Republicans/NRA to do. One wonders what will happen. But whatever does happen, it's not for lack of well-documented strategy.

* As always, all opinions my own. This post is a branding/PR commentary, not political advocacy, endorsement or non-endorsement of any party.