If you’re a first-time candidate or an incumbent looking to brand yourself as a politician, you should begin by establishing a digital brand that appeals to the people you represent.
If you want to win a seat in any political office, you must have a brand that connects with constituents. One that immediately energizes your core supporters but is broad enough to reach everyone else. This might mean that you need a quick digital brand touch up or a complete overhaul. Either way, this article will provide you with the tools you need to brand yourself as a politician.
SEE ALSO: How to Digital Rebrand Yourself
By having a great political digital brand, you will increase awareness of your campaign and quickly build relationships with voters. By virtue of the platform, a digital brand will help you stand out from the competition, garner more support, and establish yourself in the community.
How to Brand Yourself as a Politician
The first thing to consider before running for political office is getting savvy, tech savvy. You must understand how to use technology as it will affect the outcome of your campaign–especially if you are the lone soul driving most of the campaign decisions.
No single town hall meeting, debate, or press conference is as important to your campaign as your digital brand. Your digital brand is the first ‘true’ engagement voters will have with your brand. Consider it the frontline of your campaign efforts.
Your digital brand can yield all the benefits these events provide and more. It should leave users with an understanding of who you are and what you stand for.
Your Digital Identity
When establishing or revising a digital brand for your political campaign, you must tell a story. Not just any story, one that leaves voters feeling like they are being sold. There are many great ways to tell a story and you should tell your story in a way that leaves voters believing that you can help solve their problems. Tie your personal experience in with your solution.
The most important symbol that reinforces your identity as a politician is your logo. Naturally, it will be used on everything from your website, social media accounts, and digital advertising to your yard signs and bumper stickers.
Traditionally, political logos were created with bumper stickers in mind. Most of them consisted of red, white, and blue colors with white text on a rectangle plane – until 2008.
Obama tipped the scales from bumper sticker logos to brand logos during his first presidential election campaign. He campaigned on the platform of being a political outsider and his logo conveyed that as well. Never before had a presidential campaign logo conveyed the purpose of a candidate so well.
Now, these types of logos are becoming a campaign standard. A politician’s logo must convey more than the fact that she’s running for office. It must project the true essence of the candidate and their campaign.
When creating your logo, understand that voters (and consumers) are inundated with messages. You cannot play it safe with a standard logo. Your logo should stand out from those of competitors.
Obama’s logo used for his first presidential run is an excellent case study on how a logo conveyed a message that resonated with voters. The logo had so much appeal that you could slap it on anything and sell it for top dollar.
As a politician, be aware of how your appearance, actions, and words reflect on your brand.
What happens offline will appear online. Even a small misstep can be blown into a huge mistake that distorts your brand. Naturally, the life of a politician is usually under a microscope.
One mistake at the wrong time can sink your political career.
But if you happen to make a mistake, you’d be surprised by how much people are willing to forgive. The temperament of voters has evolved from loathing the status quo to respecting authenticity.
Consumer brands are attempting to build deeper, more authentic relationships with consumers. Consumers are now conditioned to engage with brands as humans and this spills over into the political arena as well.
Making a mistake is a part of being human but not recognizing that mistake will cause your constituents to support someone else.
Building a great digital identity for your political brand involves conveying who you are, what you stand for, and how people can be involved with your campaign.
Your website is the foundation of your digital brand identity. Don’t think you need to spend thousands of dollars to develop one. You just need the following:
- Domain name. It is your digital address that people will use to get connected to your website. Some popular domain name providers are GoDaddy and NameCheap.
- Website Building Software. A website builder software is what you use to build your website. Some of the more popular web builders that you might have heard of are WordPress, Wix, Squarespace, and Weebly.
- Get a Web Host. A host is the storage unit where your website content lives online.
- Choose a Website Template Design. A website template is a pre-made website design that allows you to have a professional-looking website without the need of hiring a website designer. If you are using a self-hosted website builder, like WordPress, you can find great WordPress templates at WooThemes and Mojo Marketplace.
Here a video that details the branding process for Obama’s 2012 presidential campaign.
Your Online Videos
No matter what industry you’re in, video has become the best way to communicate your message and build your digital identity.
Some 66% of registered voters who use the internet—55% of all registered voters—have gone online during the 2012 election season to watch videos related to the election campaign or political issues.
These users are consuming videos of your speeches, press conferences, and debates. They are quickly reviewing explanations of political issues online, and even watching political ads.
The process of discovering political videos online is highly social. Some 62% of internet-using registered voters (52% of all registered voters) had others recommend online videos about the election or politics to them. On the flip side, 23% of internet-using registered voters (19% of all registered voters) have themselves encouraged others to watch online videos related to political issues. Just a sparse 1% have created their own video.
Your Social Media Engagements
66% of social media users (39% of American adults) have engaged civic or political activities with social media.
Twitter has become an important medium for politicians. Some use the site to provide real-time rebuttals and fact-checks during political campaigns. Some even use it as a medium to disburse campaign communication to the public. Or in this case, to their opponent.
Like candidates, voters will uses the site to express their feelings about a certain political issue. These particular tweets also provide real-time voter sentiment as well.
Placing yourself in the conversations of constituents will increase your visibility. This means, you should look for opportunities to engage with the community. Reaching out to the people you represent can be the difference between getting a vote and a potential voter saying at home.
Your Digital Visibility
Your digital brand visibility is key when spreading the word about your political campaign. You can go to town hall meetings, shake some hands, and kiss some babies, but if your digital brand is not visible, you take the risk of having someone else convey your campaign messaging through other outlets.
Every politician must have a clear message they are able to clearly convey to voters – without it being distorted by word of mouth or the media.
You’ll increase the visibility of your political brand by optimizing your web presence. Every piece of content you create should be optimized so that voters will find you while searching.
Use the Google keywords planner to discover keywords that are specific to your campaign and relevant to voters.
Ultimately, your objective is to out-rank for candidate specific results.
This tactic is similar to anyone looking to become a thought-leader or influencer in their industry. Remember, seeing results from an SEO campaign takes time. The earlier you begin your strategy the better off you’ll be.
Most SEO tactics apply across industries and there are popular SEO tools you can use to increase your visibility.
You must ensure, however, that the candidate’s name as well as information about the race appear as keywords in your title bar of your site as well as main headings in your pages and blog posts.
Reaching the right voters is key when branding yourself as a politician. Particularly, your digital brand will benefit as digital advertising will immediately increase traffic to your site or content. Facebook is a good place to start your digital ad campaign as it is highly targeted, cost-effective, and measurable.
Email is a great way to stay connected with your supporters. Provide a sign-up form on your website to capture emails and send out regular blasts to your list. Build a template within your email service provider that matches your current digital brand and renders well on desktop and mobile email applications.
Your Digital Credibility
Based on the recent U.S. presidential elections, people’s sentiment about politicians has turned pessimistic. As shown in the chart below, most voters do not trust politicians.
Some will utilize technology to help make more informed decisions about a candidate. Smartphone owners are using their mobile devices as a tool for political participation on social networking sites and as a way to fact check campaign statements in real time.
35% have used their smartphone during this election campaign to look up whether something they just heard about a candidate or the campaign in general was true.
Since voters can be skeptical about your claims, do not damage your credibility by posting something factually inaccurate. This single event can over-shadow the things you get right and cause your constituents to question all of your previous statements as well.
Increase your Street Cred
The only way you can truly engage with target voters is if you have your finger on the pulse of your community. If done consistently, a politician can adjust her campaign communications to reflect the views and opinions of the community. Getting in touch with voters and listening to their concerns is the best way to establish a politician’s credibility and likeability.
Jumping in a race for political office requires a strong digital brand. You must consider your digital identity, visibility, and credibility if you expect to properly convey your message in the digital space.
Having the right logo, staying on message with the content you create, and engaging with the people you represent is the best formula to use when branding yourself as a politician.
Do you see any similarity and differences between consumer brands and political brands? Let me know in the comments section below…
image credit: Shutterstock.com