EMOTIONAL TRUMPS RATIONAL

With the tremors still being measured in the aftermath of one of the biggest shocks in global politics, we’ve turned our attentions to extracting some brand lessons about winning the hearts of a nation.

By Rich Beecroft | November 22nd, 2016

 

No matter what side of the political divide you fall, there’s no denying the power of the wrecking ball that was Trump’s election campaign.

And while we’re in no way advocating discriminatory or violence-inciting rhetoric, the fact that 61 million Americans crossed the box next to Trump means he must’ve got something right?

So, here’s our run down of the Trump Principles…

 

Emotional trumps rational

The fact that the Trump campaign was built on a complete absence of policy, or at least divisive and contradictory promises, is clear proof that emotional messaging is more powerful than rational messaging.

In a world of apathy and content saturation, building a distinctive brand that has emotional traction is increasingly important.

Conclusive proof of the long-term impact of emotional communication has recently been proffered by the presidents of advertising effectiveness, Les Binet and Peter Field.

After dedicating 15 years to analysing thousands of IPA effectiveness papers, they have identified optimum split of advertising to be 60:40 in favour of brand-building communication to fuel business-building effects.

Their most recent white paper, Effectiveness in a Changing Era, goes one step further in demonstrating the growing importance of pulling emotional levers in a media landscape where digital growth has bred short-termism and an over-reliance on activation mechanics.

 

You don’t need everyone’s vote

In a country of deep political divisions, Trump knew exactly who his unique brand of celebrity and bullishness would appeal to and was single-minded in tailoring his campaign to this demographic – and he didn’t give a sh*t about alienating the other half of the US in the process.

This involved a careful calculation and understanding of his populace – or source of growth as we like to refer to it.

The truth is there are very few brands that need to appeal to the whole population to hit their business targets, and it’s almost an almost impossible task to create communications that will have an impact on every man and their Buster (a unique position reserved for John Lewis).

So, the answer is to use whatever data you have at your disposal to unlock that ‘must win’ audience and direct your messaging like an emotional bullet, right at them.

Be provocative to create impact and secure their brand vote.

 

Be Memorable

In a Battle Royale of the personality contests, the US election has proven the cult of celebrity and fame.

While Hilary Clinton followed the well-trodden election campaign path of carefully planned and scripted appearances, she didn’t stand a chance against the column inches and social explosion generated by Trump’s off the cuff and controversial speeches.

In a world where consumers are bombarded with advertising messages on a daily basis, visibility, fame and cultural relevance are essential.

A brand’s ability to create memory structures can have a big effect on business– if the brand is more mentally available in the head of a consumer over that of the competition, they’re ultimately more likely to be the brand they reach for.

 

Don’t pin all your hopes on the opinion polls

With all the shock political results of the past few years, you’d think we’d have learned our lesson.

The opinion polls and experts reassured us that the Conservatives would sneak the general election, that Brexit wouldn’t happen and Clinton would steal it.

But they got it wrong.

And the reason? Voter claimed behaviour just didn’t reflect reality. Just in the same way that it’s dangerous for us marketers to rely on the claimed behaviour of our consumer by relying on qualitative insight or, even worse, our own assumptions about our audiences.

It’s easy to live in our media echo chamber which, in most scenarios, means we’re distanced from the reality of our consumers.

The only means to step outside these bubbles is to use the reams of data at our disposal as well as actually speaking to your electorate to get a picture of real world behaviour – how consumers are making decisions and navigating the categories we operate in – to avoid making dangerous assumptions.

 

Don’t underestimate the power of a catchy slogan

Make America Great Again – a pretty powerful promise, right?

Ignoring the policy (or lack of) that sat behind Trump’s election strapline, the genius was in its memorability and rational vagueness.

It gave a marginalized section of America, something to get behind and chant. It cut to the central Trump-brand pledge of promising change.

So, don’t overlook the importance of the Mad Men basics in creating distinctive brand assets that reflect your central promise or purpose (if you follow the school of Sinek thinking).

 

So, I guess the point we’re making is that brands need to channel their inner Trump and stand for something distinctive and unapologetically authentic.

Because, in a world of growing apathy and declining attention levels, people are looking for causes they can get behind or, at the very least, they want to feel something.

Just one word of warning – it’s probably best to stop short of insulting and excluding every non-core consumer that exists in the process…

Follow @weareMBA on Twitter for more news and information on the work we do


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