4 branding lessons from the UK election Well it looks like our mates across the pond are finally going to Get Brexit Done. Boris Johnson and the Tories sure got it done, with a smashing victory in one of the UK's most important elections ever. How will it all play out as Boris proceeds to execute his Brexit mandate? What will the takeaways be in our neck of the world? Pass the popcorn, we will soon find out. Meantime, here's my take on what I saw as a remarkably well-crafted brand campaign, and the fundamental branding lessons to draw from it.
Boris's 4 Brilliant Branding Lessons
Pinpoint the pain point
Narrow your focus, broaden your appeal
Nail your big idea
Have a great tag line
Pinpoint the Pain Point One of the first rules of branding – identify the key pain point of your customer, one that you are able to address like no one else. It's the starting point for all great "solution" brands and campaigns. After 3 years on the brink of a constitutional crisis, Boris Johnson didn't have to look hard, but he did a clear-eyed job pinpointing his constituent's key pain point and locking onto it with laser focus: "All this talk about Brexit, and not only has Brexit not gotten done, nothing has gotten done". There's your pain point, Boris. Once you pinpoint your pain point that clearly, you put it up there on the white board, and design your branding directly from it.
Narrow your focus, broaden your appeal This is the key brand-building principle you'll learn if you read brand master Marty Neumeier's Zag and The Brand Gap, which I highly recommend. It's the pithy, positive version of "Don't try to be all things to all people". Since this was an election and not a referendum, Boris had to beef up his his campaign platform with at least a few policy morsels besides Brexit. But all in all, he did well to keep it focused. Boris's new BFF Nigel Farage helped immensely, by essentially offering up his boutique Brexit party for acquisition by the Tories, allowing them to consolidate and own the Brexit brand. Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour Party competitors? They chose the "All things to all people" route, doing their damnedest to make the election about anything and everything but Brexit, offering up a poo-poo platter of policy giveaways to appeal to working class Brits. Alas, the UK political consumer was fed up with politics above all. BoJo narrowly focused on that frustration, resulting in the broad-based election blowout and parliamentary majority he needs to deliver on his Brexit promise.
Nail your Big IdeaThe best brands and campaigns are built upon a Big Idea -- the organizing idea around which all strategy, actions and communication are aligned. It's most often captured in a tag line, like Apple's Think Different, but it can also be expressed in a mission like Disney's ultra-simple Make People Happy. Sometimes it's just one, brand-defining word or idea rolled out in evolving tag lines, Like Safety used to be for Volvo, and Rider Passion has been forever for Harley Davidson. With the simple Big Idea of Get Brexit Done, Boris nailed it. This was both a rational value proposition and a window into what Boris is all about -- i.e. his "Simon Sinek WHY". What to do once you nail your Big Idea? You muster your inner Martin Luther and NAIL it right to the church door. Make it your manifesto. Weave the message and what it means into all your brand communication, internally to your people, externally to your customer. Let it be the springboard for effective brand campaigns. Boris sure did that, coming up with perhaps one of the best political campaign "commercials" of all time.
Have a great tag lineGET BREXIT DONE. Brilliant, just brilliant. Could a tag line be more powerfully simple? Could it more directly speak directly to the UK people and their key pain point? Could it have more perfectly positioned Boris Johnson as the no-nonsense, customer-focused solution to UK's political gridlock? I think not. Could bureaucratic overthink have completely mucked it up trying to make it "more creative"? You bet. And there's the branding lesson. To craft a great tag line: keep it simple and short, make it real and resonant, and capture the essence, personality and positioning of your unique brand.
Well, there you have it. 4 quick branding lessons from one massive political saga for the ages. The hard part should be over for Boris Johnson, armed with one of the most clearly-stated and well-branded election mandates ever. Get clear on the Branding Fundamentals of your business or organization, and your big goals and brand vision will be much easier to achieve, too.