The American Odyssey Continues…Brand Versus Brand
Well the US Presidential race is over. And I have to say it’s a bit of a relief. I actually feel like I have huge hangover from all of this bullshit. Fifteen months of it.
I tend to get caught up in these things like a lot of writers do. And I tend to take sides, like a lot of writers should. But honestly, it was tough sledding this time around.
This election wasn’t about left wing versus right wing. It wasn’t about moderate versus extremist. It wasn’t even about man versus women.
It was about brand versus brand. It was a battle that was waged in the media. It was a test of strength and a personality contest. And if you look at it objectively, the strongest brand won.
Now it’s a real source of sadness that life in the United States has come down to this. Mainly because what was really lost in this shitstorm of brand versus brand were the issues.
The election should have been about which candidate can do the best job of nursing the country back to health. It should have been about what was necessary to do that effectively. And it should have been about how far the United States has made it back from the worst economic crisis since the great depression.
But no…It was about anything but.
Branding Is About The Impression You Make
The Trump brand managed to create the impression that America was pretty much fucked. And that they were pretty much fucked because of the corruption that existed in Washington.
The trouble with that is that is was probably true. But the reality of it was that it was mainly corrupt Republicans in the congress and senate whose agenda was being dictated to them by special interests and the racial hatred they felt for the democratic president.
This issue was raised by a number of people, but never got any traction because it was overpowered by the sexier promises of a Mexican wall and mass deportations of all those terrorists, murderers and rapists that have been polluting the country for decades.
It was skillful marketing in the extreme, because it drew people’s attention to non-issues and away of the real ones.
All through the campaign Trump played the schoolyard bully and beat up on everyone who got in his way. And people obviously forgave him a lot because he was ‘inexperienced’ and ‘not a politician’. Brilliant positioning again.
What this did, in addition to pumping up the Trump brand, was successfully re-position Hillary Clinton as the Washington Establishment brand.
The Trump brand knew that the sluts of the news media would be more attracted to his brand than they would the Hillary brand, because the Trump brand was outrageous. The Trump brand was irreverent. The Trump brand blew smoke up everybody’s skirt and did it very skillfully.
It was a bit of a gamble, but what did he have to lose?
On The Other Side
Hillary Clinton, or any other sane establishment politician, didn’t stand a chance.
The Democratic party gave the Trump brand the election on a silver platter when they screwed over Bernie Sanders, who was really the only viable Democratic candidate that could have stood up to the Trump brand.
Because the Bernie Sanders brand was heroic. The Bernie Sanders brand had the hearts and minds of the young and the disenfranchised, and probably their parents too.
But the Trump brand seized on a single phrase ‘Social Democrat’ and turned that into another word for ‘Communist’. And that was the end of that for the Sanders brand. Because no American likes a Commie.
The Bulletproof Drumph
The Trump brand succeeded because it was basically bulletproof. The strategy to keep it that way was simple. Just lie. And keep lying. If you lie enough people will start believing it’s true.
Because there are a lot of people out there who are intellectually incapable of going deep. And the ones who are are probably party loyalists and will understand that you’re lying your ass off to get the party in power again.
Last night was the proof that the Trump brand outperformed the Hillary brand. Not by much, but it didn’t need much.
As a marketing and branding person I am in awe of what the Trump brand pulled off. As a human being I am completely disgusted by how they did it.
They gamed the American public, counting on their ignorance, promoting racial and a whole lot of other kinds of hatred and the ineffectiveness of the Washington establishment.
They shouted long and they shouted hard. They lied like rugs. They made it acceptable for people to think like them, and the rest they just wore out, like cops will do when they interrogate a murder suspect. They created a cultural-based Stockholm Syndrome on a mass scale.
And goddam it, it worked.
Be Careful What You Wish For
The only downside is that now you have a President who is determined to turn a whole large country on its head. You have a president who, if nothing else, has proven that his agenda really starts and ends with himself.
You’re giving him a huge benefit of the doubt.
This is a classic case of ‘be careful what you wish for’, because those stories hardly ever end with the phrase, 'and they all lived happily ever after.’
If your business has reached the point where talking to a communication professional would be the preferred option to banging your head against the wall or whatever, lets talk.
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All content copyright 2016 Jim Murray