In the run up to the election, I did not express fully my views. Although I had come around to supporting Mitt Romney, I did not like his campaign. He never responded to Obama attacks and never explained how his policies would help the average America. Romney and the Republican Party were aloof to how much disliked they are. Whether they realized it or not, much of the rhetoric of the primaries turned people off. Young people, Single Women and Hispanics were derided and mocked by people like Cain, Santorum, Bachmann and even Romney himself. Instead of promoting National Unity and a inclusive vision, the Republicans Party seem to only care about the concerns Rural and Religious voters and told everyone else to take a hike. To be fair, this was not done intentional, but that is how the rhetoric came across. The result was losing to one of the worst President in American history during an anemic economy.
Since the election, it seems the Republicans are dividing into 3 camps. You have the Establishment led by Karl Rove that believe the Republicans need to turn away from the Tea Party and become Moderate. Then you have so called “The Base” * (see citation below) or purists, which demands purity and has become an exclusive club hostile and derisive of any person or group that does not subscribe to their world view. Then there are the average Republicans which tends to be Center-Right, believes in pragmatic Conservatives solutions, has a Libertarian streak and wants an inclusive Republican Party that appeals and fights for opportunity for all Americans.
The pragmatic Republicans are eager to re-brand and expand the appeal of the Republican Party. We are tired of losing elections due to perception problems and believe better messaging is needed. Mark McNeilly who is currently a professor and a former marketing executive lays a blueprint on how the Republican Party can expand its appeal and reach out to those whom the last 2 decades perceive the Party hostile to them.
The political pundits’ view on the Republican party lately is that it desperately needs to “rebrand” itself. While numerous political writers have explained why the party needs to do this, so far none have actually looked at the rebranding problem as a business would and offered concrete recommendations on the rebranding implementation. My goal is to remedy that here by offering an analysis of and recommendations for the GOP brand, starting with what the brand should stand for and then getting down into the specifics (e.g., logo, tagline, advertising) that flow from that positioning. I’ll do this not from a personal belief standpoint but from the perspective of a brand strategist.
n that brand audit, a smart brand manager, whether running a business brand or a political one, would look at every component of the brand to see what is and is not working. Questions to be asked include “How do voters perceive the party?” “What does the party stand for?” “How does the party’s name and logo either support or detract from the brand?” With that information in hand, the brand manager can either keep things mostly as is, do a minor update of the brand, or execute a major overhaul. That’s the process I will follow here.
For this audit let’s start with the GOP brand’s perceptions and how it performs among different segments. Based on data from a December 2012 CNN/ORC International poll, a December 2012 NBC/Wall Street Journal poll, and an election day CNN exit poll it’s clear that the Republican brand is perceived by significant (and growing) segments of the electorate as:
• “Older,” “outdated,” and “out-of-touch” with the changes going on in America.
• Economically as “for the wealthy” and “not for the people.”
• Politically as “too extreme” and “uncompromising.”
• Emotionally as “not caring for people.”
Turning to who “bought” the Republican brand in the last presidential election (per Gallup) you find the Republican party did well among men, whites, the religious, married people, those making $35K and over and the 65 and older segment. However, many of these segments (whites, married, religious) are becoming a relatively smaller portion of the electorate.
Meanwhile, the Democrats’ brand, while it has issues, is viewed more positively, is more appealing to growing segments of the voter population, and is seen as more inclusive, especially for the less-fortunate.
A Republican rebranding starts with a new brand promise. Right now, as its political and thought leaders debate about the party’s future direction, it’s obvious the party does not yet know what it stands for. And even if it did it has no tagline that expresses clearly what the GOP offers to voters.
To develop a strong brand promise, I looked at the history of the party, what I interpret as its core message, and what I believe would work going forward. From that analysis, I propose the GOP brand promise should be “Opportunity for All.” The rationale for “Opportunity” is that America is known as “the land of opportunity.” It’s what virtually all Americans want, the opportunity to live the “American Dream.” It’s also something that leading Republican politicians like Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, and Paul Ryan have been talking about lately. It’s a positive and emotional message. An obvious reason that “for All” makes sense is that the GOP needs to be inclusive to gain more voters.
On social issues the GOP would promote Federalism–allowing states to experiment with solutions that best solve their problems and decide for themselves the social policies that best fit the needs and beliefs of their citizens. This would take these issues off the national stage and eliminate a big “inhibitor to purchase” by a number of voters.
The party also needs to ensure all its politicians are media-savvy. Candidates must understand the brand promise and messaging as well as be able to speak about it intelligently and passionately. They must be comfortable going to groups outside the base to carry the message. And in today’s media environment, they need to be telegenic and able to handle tough “gotcha” questions that will inevitably come their way. The old adage, “All politics are local” is not true in the digital age. As Mitt Romney found out when two Senate candidates mishandled the topic of abortion, “All politics are now national.”
I hope everyone read the article before they start attacking this post. Its time for Conservatives to realize that much of the American public feels they are hated by them. Is it a fair view? No, but we do not live in a perfect world. This is an aspect I have noticed about many Conservatives. They dream of an idealized and perfect world, not the world as it exists. Progressives on the other hand, dream of creating a perfect world, but accept the current reality. What they seek to do is alter that reality to create their Utopia. Conservatives on the other hand do not accept reality and dream of utopia, without wanting to alter reality. This is a recipe for disaster and electoral defeats such as 2012.
I know this post will not be popular with people and I accept that. But would you rather a post than tells you everything is fine and once Obama is gone, we will win every election. Or would you rather read a post that tells you reality and gives a blueprint on what is needed to change the current perception of the Republican Party. The truth is we live in an evil and fallen world. Conservatives need to accept this reality and figure out ways to create messages that will appeal to people so that we can improve reality.
If the Republican Party does not change and adapt to the current reality, it will not win that many elections. Calling everyone who did not vote Republican sluts, invaders, moochers and leaches will not endear them to your world view. Many voted for Obama out of fear of the Republican Party. This fear was due to the harsh rhetoric many Republicans spew and the Progressive media amplifying this. The key is to make people stop fearing Republicans and start viewing the Party as a viable alternative. This can be done by better messaging and rejecting hostile rhetoric.
The choice Republicans have is simple, adapt to the 21st Century reality and create a Nationalistic message of opportunity for all Americans. What the Republican party needs are more people like Rand Paul, Marco Rubio, Scott Walker, Pat Toomey, Ted Cruz and Bobby Jindal. They need less people like Karl Rove, Mitt Romney, John McCain, the Bushes, Chris Christie, Rick Santorum, Michele Bachmann, Todd Akins, Sharon Angle and Mike Huckabee. Our choices should not be lame Establishment types or angry loons. A candidate can be Conservatives and electable at the same time. This will not be easy due to the Progressive Media-Entertainment Complex, but it needs to be done. What the Republican party has been doing since 1992 has not been working. It is time for a new course to start winning elections and make this nation prosperous again.
Please read the article!
(Hat Tip: Eaglesoars)
Bonus: Here is an article at National review that speaks of the difficulty in re-branding.
(Update on The Base): Mars writes the following
Oh, I see the imaginary base has risen again. If there was a base there wouldn’t be such disfunction.
There are the elites, aside from them there are literally millions of republicans, each one with their own particular feelings and beliefs. They are not a monolithic base. It is still mostly the hodge podge of conflicting ideas that Reagan managed to bring together under fiscal conservatism.
I agree with his view of this, but some here and other places insist there is a base.