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Republicans

Repairing Damaged Brands… And Damaged Political Parties

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.

Poll Today, Gone Tomorrow

The latest employment numbers continue to show significant improvement in the economy. Granted, the recent numbers have been a jumbled mess due to Easter and the Census. But if you look below the misleading headlines and campaign speeches, you will find significant improvement.

It looks like the private sector produced 123,000 jobs in March and 60% of all reporting industries indicated job growth. I think it is now safe to say the economy is growing again and the recession did indeed end in July or August of last year. We have turned a corner and the immediate future is looking better.

Granted, the picture is not completely rosy. Those unemployed less than 26 weeks are likely to get recalled to work. However, those unemployed for more than 26 weeks due to a plant closure will probably remain unemployed for a significant amount of time. 

Moderate GDP growth of 2 to 3 % for 2010 and 2011 is definitely on tap.

One thing to watch out for is the impact of a growing economy on the fall elections. Republicans have partially enjoyed relative strength on most generic polls due to the problems in the economy. As the economy begins to expand, democratic candidates in communities with less structural unemployment (i.e. areas without significant plant closures) will be able to point to the improvement in the economy and make the case that their policies are working.

A key to successfully interpreting research is to realize that polling and market research is a snapshot of today, not tomorrow. When assessing the results of any project, you have to include other inputs and information (such as economic data) to really understand what is happening and most importantly what you will face tomorrow or in November.