Damaged brands can recover. So can damaged political parties. Companies and individuals ranging from Dell, Michael Vick, to Tylenol have made amends or reinvented themselves in such a manner that has rebuilt their trust with the public.
So how do you do it? How does a political party do it?
It’s the same prescription for both: Stop ignoring your customers’ needs and pretending that they don’t matter. Show some compassion and demonstrate that you are suffering the same maladies as your voters. Prove to them that you really care and that you are willing to make things right. Bill Clinton’s “I feel your pain” was incredibly effective for a reason.
Voters, like customers, are connected. If you lose one, you lose their friends, Facebook friends, Twitter followers, etc.
Every candidate is an extension of a brand and is acting on behalf of their party. It only takes one stupid/careless/ignorant statement by a down-ticket candidate to wreck every other candidate with an R by their name.
Voters never forget. But they might be persuaded to forgive you if given a reason to.
Welcome change and outside help. Reach out to voters and ask them to help you improve. Identify what voters need and want from you and try to deliver. Give them something to rally around, something that is relevant to their needs.
Don’t be desperate and don’t pander. Be genuine. Voters can smell a con job. They also can smell fear. They will not jump on the squishy crisis train. Be confident about who you are and why you can make a difference in their lives. You also have to show them how it will make a difference in a language they can understand.
Constantly ask voters for advice on how you’re doing and make them part of the rebranding effort. Create a community online and offline who can be part of the process and keep them up to date with your progress, where you are headed, and how their contributions are part of the path. If they are involved with the process they will be committed to ensuring that their efforts will be successful.