McCain vs. Obama: Did the Best Brand Win?

I raised the point that the next president would not be determined by issues or platforms but by the relative strength of the candidate's “brand.” Simple accountability requires that we revisit that prediction and what the result means for your professional services firm branding and marketing efforts.

Whether you are thrilled or dismayed by the outcome, I think you'll agree that the election was a triumph of the better brand. First, there's widespread agreement (even among Republican governors last week) that the Republican brand is in rough shape.

Second, there is consensus that McCain suffered from his association with President Bush. I emphasize the word “association” because public opinion was influenced by not just what McCain proposed to do, or even who he was as a potential leader, but by a negative connection to the current administration.

Finally, I'd point to the strong response that President elect Obama's supporters had to his victory. It was an outpouring of positive emotions — an emotional connection to a superior “brand.”

There is an important lesson here for professional services firms. People often make decisions, even important life changing ones, based on emotions. So your firm's brand has to appeal to people irrational side to gain traction in the marketplace.

When your potential clients are deciding which technology to buy or which accounting firm to hire, they may not base their decision on objective evidence. Emotion plays an important role, even if buyers don't realize it (and they probably don't). Your job as a professional services marketer is to recognize this reality and to craft a professional services brand and marketing campaign that presents “objective” criteria and appeals to your audience's emotions. If you wondering where to start, take a good look at the Obama campaign. Their victory began with their understanding of brand.


Author: Lee Frederiksen, Ph.D. Who wears the boots in our office? That would be Lee, our managing partner, who suits up in a pair of cowboy boots every day and drives strategy and research for our clients. With a Ph.D. in behavioral psychology, Lee is a former researcher and tenured professor at Virginia Tech, where he became a national authority on organizational behavior management and marketing. He left academia to start up and run three high-growth companies, including an $80 million runaway success story.

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