The other day, I was reading this terrific article (I have included below) that discussed the pros and cons of the branding efforts of all of the Presidential campaigns. I can speak directly to it, since I had a very similar experience during the 2004 Campaign.
When I first joined the Kerry Campaign, I tried to get a handle on what was the message of the campaign – specifically in terms of branding: what did John Kerry stand for? Someone told me that the “position book” was somewhere in the office and they would get it for me. I was trying to figure out how to drive how the website content would be framed – and spent WAY too much time looking for this object – which had all the reality of the door-stretcher that you hear about when you work in shopping malls.
I later learned that the branding message was not quite clear – as evidenced by the variations of tag lines we heard. For example:
- September 2003 – “The Courage to do What is Right for America”
- November 2003 – “The Real Deal” in military font
- January 2004 – “Bring It On”
I did finally find a document that described why they chose the “courage” theme, and then “The Real Deal” based on various focus groups, but the challenge was trying to wrest the message from Dean at the time who was offering change versus experience (sound familiar?). When you read Al’s article, note the strange similarities, which is why I thought it incredible instructive.