The campaigning is over, the votes have been counted and Cameron has won the general election with an outright majority. While the outcome might have shocked political pundits, the politicians – including the Tories - it comes as no surprise to us seasoned brand-centric comms professionals.
Time was when the roots of brand Labour – the belief that we need to make all men and women equal where possible – had enough emotional credit, we would follow and believe in them. But this time around the Tories were always going to win, because in an uncertain world, where “if it ain’t broke why fix it?” floaters will stick with the rational when there’s a dearth of emotional reasons to believe.
Why? Because people buy stories as much as they buy people and their brands/organisations. And while the facts of your story matter, perception is everything. If you want people to believe in you and your story, you have to give me a rational reason to believe (IQ) and emotional reasons to engage (EQ).
If we think of Daniel Kahneman’s System 1 and System 2 impacting on decision making, the emotional vs rational dynamics for human beings, (who are feelers who think, not thinkers that feel), ordinarily revert to emotional ahead of rational.
Yet as we saw with the Scottish Referendum, Salmond’s Braveheart rhetoric won the hearts of many people who love and identify with brand Scotland. Yet in the final analysis, when the Dave, Ed and Nick got their proverbial together, the rational argument got the YES vote. Salmond could not answer some fundamental questions including what currency Scotland would have on day one of independence.
So System 2 wins at the ballot box. The 40% of floater voters marked X on the blue spot because:
· Brand blue (rational): The Tories waved the Labour debt note at us with a key spokesperson - Cameron, (whether we like him or his policies or not), who is perceived to be more believable as a figure on the international stage than the younger Miliband.
· Brand red (emotional): Labour did not have a power -passioned focused policy articulated well enough to make any floaters switch rather than stick. Or a man, as lovely as he is, people felt they could invite to our UK party.
And let’s face it: we’re looking at blurred colours and lines in party politics now. There’s no clear brand strategy or differentiation.
Digital campfires and savvy voters really want authenticity. We’re living in the age of reference vs deference (the traditional pillars of influence, like the AIDA model are crumbling). We’re looking for a new order. New people, who tell it how it how it is. Farage didn’t win, but he won support not because of his views on immigration but because he’s the Ronseal of the political stratosphere. He’s the bloke next door, who smokes tabs, drinks a pint and says what he does on the tin.
Politicians alike need to do a much better job of building belief in their brand and leadership. The key to success is an authentic balance of emotional and rational storytelling. Head and heart.
A future political system needs to learn from the science and art of storytelling.
If Russell Brand or Jeremy Clarkson had gone head to head, who’d have won?
This article was written by Angie Moxham, CEO, 3 Monkeys Communications.
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