Who’s the better brand, Hillary or Trump?

The United States Presidential election season has been hijacking headlines globally for a year now, for reasons good, bad and ugly. No matter which side of the political aisle you stand, you’ve gotta admit that this election is indeed one of the biggest marketing stories of 2016. At some level, it’s the scariest version of reality TV you can see because well, it’s pretty darn real. And scary. And wildly entertaining.

Now that things are in perspective…

It affects pretty much everyone in any country, to see who is going to be the leader of the free world. Yup, the commander-in-chief of the United States of America who’ll be responsible for crucial, sensitive decisions like air strikes, cease fires, wars etc etc, no big deal.

Before we go further, I should clarify one thing — this is NOT a political article. This article does NOT imply any of my personal political preferences in any way. Yes, many of the political considerations and claims made by both Team Clinton and Team Trump are quite the fiasco. The publicity stunts have failed more often than they’ve succeeded and some of the statements made by the candidate(s) have been ludicrous. It warrants a lot of discussion, which thankfully is already happening all over the world. But what REALLY determines the outcome, is what I’d like to focus on.

It’s no understatement to say the brand strategy of these two personalities will mean everything to the results of this election.

How? Here’s how..

What does a successful presidential campaign really entail? Several things obviously, but THE most crucial aspect has got to be creating and maintaining a successful brand that voters identify with and can rely on. Very much like how it works with companies. If we trust you, we buy what you’re selling/providing/saying.

So the vote on who’s been slaying the brand story, directly relates to the success of their campaign, which directly influences political preferences, and thus directly influencing the poll numbers.

In short, their brand image means seriously high stakes. Makes sense now? Great.

Let’s now move on to evaluating each camp’s brand effectiveness. We’ll start super easy — taglines!

Messaging

“Always better to be concrete and simple, rather than abstract and complex”

The taglines used by both candidates are the backbone of their campaign’s messaging. It is reflective of their voice, their vibe and what they’re saying to convince voters. Regardless of what comes out of Donald Trump’s mouth, it almost always is short, straightforward and easy to understand. It’s no wonder that the polls are so close, even though Hillary is winning so far.

The issue with Hillary’s messaging is that she uses words like “deplorable” and “demagogic” a little too often. Is the average voter really going to understand your message? Her affinity to policy-talk is adorably comforting, but hardly relatable. Even complex ideas and policies can be so much more powerful if simplified for the voters to understand.

This isn’t about whether Trump’s messaging is sensible, but about whether it is clear and convincing. And clearly, it’s convincing a whole bunch of his audience. Hillary’s messaging is being understood by an audience who already understand her. She needs to be simpler to be heard!

Score: Hillary 0; Trump 1

Engagement

“Whether it is supporters or critics, it is important to engage meaningfully rather than empty interactions”

Between Trump and Hillary, who’s actively talking to real people and solving issues? The ability to instill trust in your voters will come only when they know you are capable of real action. With Hillary’s brand being associated heavily with the breadth of her political experience, regardless of its quality, it still makes her seem more intelligent and capable than her opponent, Trump. Hillary has capitalised on this point and has had her campaign talk policy and experience every second chance she gets. This is definitely a trust builder for her case.

Trump, on the other hand, doesn’t do much more than speak. Due to his lack of governing experience, his only approach seems to be trash-talking Hillary (which works in some cases). Trump has had the opportunity to run several impact campaigns that show that he can actually effect change in the country, but he’s never chosen to go down that route. He doesn’t engage his supporters, his critics, and calls foul on anything and anyone who is against him. This doesn’t bode well with voters who are undecided.

Score: Hillary 1; Trump 0

Online Influence

“Spontaneous beats scripted but quality wins over quantity”

Social media has left no field untouched. Politics is no different. And in this case, both Hillary and Trump have been using Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and other platforms voraciously to be in our faces every waking minute.

Source: audiencebloom.com as of August 2016

Purely based on quantity of followers, Trump wins. But quantity cannot be the only measure of a brand’s success. That’s like a company depending ONLY on vanity metrics like likes, followers etc and not worrying about what the press is saying about them. Hillary has added to the value and quality of her brand and followers, by adding in the influence of popular political and Hollywood celebrities. Barack Obama, Michelle Obama, Elizabeth Warren, Robert De Niro, Meryl Streep, George Clooney, Beyonce, Ellen Degeneres, Lena Dunham and several others have been showing clear support (#imwithher) while Trump has very few supporters who are positively viewed by the public. (Clint Eastwood being one of them).

The essence of social is authentic, intimate and unscripted. That’s where Trump wins. He spews tweets every hour of the day, and his followers have known to be engaging openly, twice more than those of Hillary. Hillary has long been criticised for being over-prepared and scripted, not allowing the voters to get a true sense of who she is. With Trump in contrast, what you see is what you get. Is that a good thing? Irrelevant. What is relevant here is that it’s working for many of the voters to feel safer and confident about him.

Score: Hillary 1; Trump 1 — Tie!

Sentiment

“Positivity always wins”

Sentiment is a great way to measure the quality of your social media influence. In my opinion, there is a clear winner here — Hillary. Although Trump has taken control over the tone of these elections and has heavily influenced voter issues and concerns, his methods have always been questionable. His brand has constantly used fear as a tool to move people towards him, which has the ability to backfire. In some cases, Hillary has hardly had to do anything but be a bystander. Just letting Trump talk and be himself does the trick. His statements on women, immigration, wars and policy have all received huge backlash.

Source: audiencebloom.com as of August 2016

According to mention.com and Jason Demers, CEO of AudienceBloom, both candidates have received a lot of negative attention, but Trump definitely seems to be the more polarising figure with a high percentage of positive and negative mentions in social media at least. Hillary on the other hand has garnered a lot of positive mentions by primarily being a better option than Trump, and my using the political goodwill of folks like the Obama’s.

Score: Hillary 1; Trump 0

The Bottom Line…

SO! It looks like both camps are pulling no stops to ensure they are marketing themselves to the hilt. Overall, both candidates are generating equal amount of buzz and attention successfully. Although Trump seems to be winning at the vanity metrics and messaging, Hillary seems to have a clear edge in terms of positive sentiment and engagement. Only the polls can really show us the winner, but it’s nevertheless very insightful and interesting to observe how these candidates use behavioural theories and complex marketing strategies to convince voters for the biggest job in the world.

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