Perhaps it’s the non-stop coverage of the state by state primaries and the countless debates, or maybe it’s just the new release of House of Cards season 4.  In any event it got my thoughts stirring on this topic.  Here are five commonalities to remember whether you’re leading a brand, or running for office.

  1. IT’S ALL ABOUT TRUST: “Trust” and politics seems like an oxymoron, however, brands need to guard and protect their consumer’s trust at all costs. Promises made that brands don’t keep violate said trust, which can lead to the loss of a lifetime consumer. Also, it’s not just about lip service and using words of aspiration. Millennials & Gen Z will not stand for it and want to actually see your brand behavior aligning with your brand’s promise.
  2. BE RELEVANT: Relevance stems from intimately understanding your consumer’s life. Not only from a media planning perspective but from what they connect to emotionally. The learnings you gain from the lives of your consumer may force you to evolve your brand, be relevant, & take risks. On the campaign trail all the candidates have a social media presence, but John Kasich for example, took to Snapchat to connect with a younger demographic. 1.  Because his children said he needed to be there and 2.) Because it was completely authentic and relevant, (you could not have your campaign team Snap on your behalf, you need to actually be doing it). 
  3. STAND FOR SOMETHING: Strong politicians and great brands clearly define what they are for and what they are against. Not everyone will like your message, which may feel uncomfortable. Your core values as a brand will be tested, however, with every decision one should link back to those values and your actions.
  4. FIND YOUR NICHE: More today than ever new candidates are emerging, attracting different cohorts and connecting because of different platforms. Similar to the micro-brew trend, the country has moved from only a few options to many, appealing to a wider variety of tastes. Brands that win long term identify and enter white space areas that are under-served and come up with solutions that solve problems.
  5. MEASURE YOUR IMPACT: Whether you’re a mature brand or a startup, thanks to the digital age there are countless KPI’s and leading indicators you can set up to measure consumer behavior. This helps you to understand how people feel about your brand and what actions your message is affecting. On the political circuit the ultimate success is to gain a vote, the flip side is finding out your consumers are Googling “how to move to Canada.” Regardless of what you learn from this data, it’s what you do next that determines if you will win or lose.