Most people I know think a lot about personal branding: which non-profits represent my interests? What exactly does “business formal” entail? How do I find my authentic voice? What does tweeting this article say about me?
But if we’re being honest, our personal brand isn’t going to make headlines. Unless you’re a political candidate. Running for state rep or governor or president takes personal branding to the next level. Suddenly, everything matters—from the t-shirt you sport to your college jobs.
Even if they agree on nothing else, candidates understand that the best way to sell themselves is to appeal to voters’ values. If you watched the political commercials this year (how could you miss them?), you saw that most featured an upstanding citizen either sharing his values or attacking his opponent. Candidates promoted their personal beliefs more than they touted their résumés.
Appealing to the masses through shared values seems like the recipe for a win. Who doesn’t support more money in their wallet, world peace, strong families, a respectful community and pride in being American? In the end, this creates elections that are decided by personalities and values.
As advertisers, we can learn from the successes and losses of local candidates. Obviously, we can’t blast our clients’ competitors, as tempting as that might be. But we can take some tips from political campaigns and apply them to our clients’ brands.
If messaging that focuses on values is more convincing than other talking points in elections, then we should apply that logic to the campaigns we create. Rather than citing numbers and impressive awards, our campaigns may resonate better with our audiences if they appeal to their personal values.
This isn’t new information. With all the research tools at our fingertips and media experience under our belt, we’re able to customize campaigns for audiences driven by faith, family, friends or any other factors.
Election season is a wonderful reminder that to connect with our audiences, our messaging must speak to them in a deep way and communicate a true understanding of their values. If this year’s races are any indication of what’s to come, we’ll be seeing (and learning from) ads for the 2016 elections by Christmas.