The General election…was it down to politics or personal perception?


Did the Labour party lose the election because of Gordon Brown’s brand value, or did David Cameron win more seats because his party’s policies were more in tune with the country’s wants and needs?

There is no doubt that over half the country disliked Gordon Brown. Okay, disliked may be too strong a word! Plus, in marketing terms, we would say he had negative brand value! But however you describe it, Gordon Brown’s ‘value’ was very negative – the opinion polls confirmed this!

But in a new media world where consumers are very media savvy and brand aware, what could the Labour party have done to build and then manage the Gordon Brown brand?

The first thing they should have done, in my view, was find out what negatives there were, in relation to social, economic and demographic terms, as well as geographic. Once they have the data they can then map out strong and weak areas (the issues) that need to be addressed. Then the intelligence gathered would allow a clear understanding, which in turn would establish relative messaging – both in relation to correct communications and necessary activity.

When you consider that Gordon Brown was the longest serving Chancellor of the Exchequer in British political industry (10 years), you have to agree he had a lot about him – he certainly had the experience of government and the political will. So why was it therefore, that the personable (the brand personality) wasn’t wheeled out for all of us to get to know and then understand – why was it left until the last-minute before they even tried? Did they suffer from ignorance, egotism or simply bad planning on behalf of the party’s spin doctors and publicists?  

Okay, everyone could argue that the Conservatives had more ‘promotional’ budget than any other party, but sometimes the smaller the budget the more creative and focused the strategists mind!

What I do know after analysing the media feeds soon after the election results were understood is that the party planners – the brand managers of the Labour party were very, very quick to drop the umbrella brand (Gordon Brown) they had spent thirteen years creating and managing – badly – to start creating a replacement, which in my view will be David Milliband.

I think everyone would agree that politicians, whether loved or loathed are a much-needed requirement. What I now understand from politicians however is that they, in today’s consumer (voter) savvy world, they need to be just as proficient at brand management as they are at debating and being disloyal!

Or am I wrong; did Gordon Brown and the Labour party lose the 2010 election because the Conservatives just had better policies?

One Comment Add yours

  1. Thomas Atcheson says:

    The Labour kingmakers looked to me like they were carrying on the same successful strategy they had under Brown without realising he is a totally different person. This was most obvious in the leadership debates where scripted jokes were dropped in and fell like a lead balloon.

    Rather than work on Brown’s strengths, the emphasis seemed to be on delivering Blair soundbites from the mouth of someone clearly uncomfortable with the broadcast media. Brown at his best has been talking straight from his own mouth, with conviction, unscripted and on black and white issues. The problem is, a modern prime minister hasn’t the time to spend writing all his own speeches and no one understood him well enough as a speaker.

    His advisors too had problems but couldn’t work on the solution. The Smile is just one of those areas. He looked gawky and gloomy all the time – i’d imagine even when he was over the moon. But the nerves and tension of broadcast wiped any genuine hint of an upturned mouth away. The fake plastic smile was just that, used to show he is human and actualy made him look more unnatural.

    So I agree with Jason, the Brown brand got swallowed up – but the question is would that have made enough of a difference?

    The power brokers in the Labour party are still in control with people like Ed Balls, who scrapped through with a minority verdit, calling the shots. It should be Labour MPs who won the backing of their own supporters who should be calling the shots. He’s already being critised for poor negotiation with the Lib Dems.

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