Branding can be used in powerful and unique ways to bring people together for a common belief, cause, or idea. The hundreds of brands we’ve worked with since 2006, echoes this. When the same fundamental branding basics are applied to political campaigns, it has an incredible power to merge tone and voice, brand identity, brand purpose, and brand image to unify the masses.
Yet, historically, research on political marketing hardly touches on the concept of branding. Let’s explore some recent political movements that effectively harness the power of branding to send a strong, clear, and action-oriented message to influence voter behavior and perception.
Political branding example: IWillVote
In February of this year, the Democratic National Committee (DNC) announced the launch of their IWillVote campaign, aimed to reach 50 million voters across the nation with four main goals:
Commit to voting
Register to vote
The IWillVote campaign has been spreading the word about voting in order to drive people to the polls come November. Historically, voter turnouts during midterm elections are low.
“We are pleased that the DNC’s new IWillVote campaign is promoting vote commitments ahead of the midterms, a critical element to ensuring higher voter turnout this November,” says Adrienne Lever, a campaign director of a progressive political group, Swing Left.
“At Swing Left, this past summer we launched our own commit to vote program, and have had thousands of our volunteers out in the field organizing to collect vote commitments in our 70 Swing Districts across the country. Looking ahead, we are happy the DNC’s new national campaign also advances the importance of these efforts, and we look forward to supporting their ambitious goal to reach 50 million Americans by November," says Lever.
This campaign has driven action with flawless execution, and has sparked a national conversation on both sides of the aisle. Photographers, for example, have been inspired by the movement and use their talents to create related work and show their support.
Political branding example: I Will Vote Project
The I Will Vote Project is a photography, film, and art project about the next generation of voters, specifically in Texas. The project's lead creative artist, John Fiege, wanted to capture young people at the forefront of the midterm elections and highlight voting as an expression of young people's values.
Fiege describes the project as a means that “give[s] the people a voice and provides a window into their motivations and perspectives—a friend who committed suicide, a classmate killed in a school shooting, the trauma of witnessing the current immigration crisis, or a defining issue of personal identity, from race, to LGBTQ+ rights, to the environment.”
Fiege then translated the ethos of the project and artistic mission into tangible promotional products such as stickers (shown above) and T-shirts (shown below).
Political branding example: No Excuses by theSkimm
This initiative was executed on the sole purpose to ensure that voters have all the pieces necessary to cast their ballot in the midterms. They found a solution to an issue seen develop in previous elections by providing the proper resources for everyone to be prepared and know what is expected of them to legally vote in the United States.
“No Excuses was launched around a genuine belief that there’s no excuse not to be an engaged citizen," says Daniella Weisberg and Carly Zakin, co-founders and co-CEOS of theSkimm. "We want to eliminate all of the excuses that our generation uses to not vote by providing them the information and resources to get informed and go to the polls on Election Day.”
This particular campaign inspires people’s voices to be heard at the polls and share their voter experience with absolutely no excuses. In case you still have an excuse as to why you shouldn’t participate in the upcoming midterm elections, check out their campaign video!
What can your brand do to spark action?
What all of these examples have in common is simple: they executed a cohesive brand strategy that is founded on the ethos of that brand. They then, seamlessly, translated their message into tangible pieces — giving their audience something to literally hold on to, relate with, and share with others.
This approach, while showcased here in a political context, is how many successful brands connect with their audience on an emotional level — the strongest way to send your message and build a lasting, and profitable, relationship with your target audience.
Whether they were providing insight to the next generation of voters or providing important resources to ensure people are casting their vote, both examples here shaped their approach by what their audience is seeking, in a way they connect and relate with, and in a medium that they are familiar with — all with the same goal in mind: vote this election and every other.
Whatever your brand ethos may be, try to start a conversation. What many successful brands and partners of ours will tell you that a key piece to starting an organic conversation is quality custom merchandise. Subtly branded and on-message merchandise like hoodies, backpacks, headwear, and more, helps to effectively translate your overarching brand strategy, spark action, and differentiate your brand from those pesky competitors in ways they wish they thought of.