Whether you felt good about the results of the 2016 Election or not, it was a historic race for the presidency, especially considering the branding strategies used this year. It was the biggest year so far for social media to make a difference. Other obvious firsts of either choosing the first female president or someone who rose into the spotlight with little to no political experience. Let’s look at what each brand did right and learn what we can from their efforts.

Donald Trump
Donald Trump

Trump

Out of nowhere came Donald Trump. Though he was well-known for his show The Apprentice, he wasn’t so well known as a political figurehead. Trump was able to use that notoriety from the very beginning to build his platform of anti-establishment, business-centered thinking.

Fear

Fear played a major role in Trump’s campaign. In psychology, fear is one of the major motivators of emotional unrest. It’s the cause of a lot of therapy. Trump’s campaign knew the fears lurking beneath its target audience well. He leveraged that fear to unite people under common concerns for the present political structure.

Takeaway: Emotional connection with your target audience unites them and gets them talking to build momentum for your brand.

Criticizing Competition

Although Trump was lean on the details of his own agenda and plans for the presidency, he was thick with criticism for his competition. Often in the debates, he would seem to ignore questions and simply aim for Clinton’s weak spots. 

Takeaway: Pointing to your competitor’s weakness can be more important than your value proposition.

Pulling for the Underdog

Trump was the unlikely winner. Even going into the early voting, most polls predicted a loss for him, either by a large or small portion. What surprised so many people was the number of people who wouldn’t admit to voting for him who did actually vote for him.

Takeaway: Don’t underestimate the underdog/anti-establishment vote

Trump Pence
The early version of Trump’s logo.

The Logo

As soon as Trump announced his running mate, an updated logo appeared. It drew massive criticism and not a small amount of humorous ridicule. That logo soon disappeared and was replaced with another image.

Takeaway: Don’t be afraid to call an audible when faced with criticism.

What he didn’t do right:

Verbals

What won Trump so much press before his venture into politics didn’t serve him well after he announced his candidacy. His campaign was riddled with moments of cringe-worthy dialogue that alienated whole groups of people. He eventually lost his Twitter privileges.

Takeaway: Self-edit, or have someone else edit, your responses (even when you think no one is listening).

Visuals

Trump garnered early disdain simply for the way he looked. His hair, over-tanned skin, and ruddy cheeks gave the media plenty to play with. As the campaign went on, some of those early visuals were minimized, but people still remembered the first impression.

Takeaway: Make the best visual you can early on.

Hillary Clinton
Hillary Clinton

Clinton

Although Hillary Clinton didn’t win the election for President of the Unites States, her campaign made some amazing breakthroughs in her brand. Here are some high points to learn from her team.

Gather

Clinton, a well-seasoned politician, knew that gathering a following makes or breaks your career. She identified several issues early in her campaign – women’s rights, immigration reform and strong foreign policy, to name a few – that people would rally around.

Takeaway: Don’t waste energy building a following when one is already built and ready to be led.

Be Emotional

Clinton constantly used emotions to draw the audience in. Just look at this video.

This video hits the heart straight on while gathering her audience around one of her core values – women’s rights.

Takeaway: Tie emotional content to your brand that connects with your audience

The Logo

Clinton's Logo
Clinton’s Logo
Versions of the Clinton Logo
Versions of the Clinton Logo

Clinton’s logo was a masterpiece. It was simple, represented her well, and was endlessly versatile. I would love to know how much time she put into that one piece of her brand. It was a winner, even if it didn’t win the election for her.

 

Takeaway: Spend the time and energy needed to develop something people identify with.

And what she didn’t do so well

Retention

Early in the night, most pundits were explaining that Trump could win it “if” he took certain states. That soon turned to them saying Clinton might loose if she doesn’t carry certain states. Those states were those that lean towards the democratic party and shockingly didn’t vote that way. Clinton didn’t campaign heavily in those states, and it hurt her on election night.

Takeaway: Retention is just as important and conversion.

Metrics

The polls agreed the day before the election that Clinton would win. Some pollsters thought by a large margin. After the election, I would imagine those failed predictions generated a lot of work in tuning up some people’s resumes. They were just wrong.

Takeaway: Don’t put all your faith in metrics.

Wrapping up

Late in the night, there was a lot of shock at the results of the voting. In those moments, we all struggle. It’s always a great opportunity to learn. I hope this helped you learn something from these two very public campaigns that can help you get great results in branding your business and connecting with your audience.

If you would like to learn more about your brand, please contact me for a free conversation.

Author: Paul

Paul has been helping people find their communications gifts for over two decades. He loves surrounding himself in nature and reading long books about epic adventures.

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