(This post also appears on Huffington Post so click here if you'd rather read it there).
I'm a marketer, so I look at everything through the lens of branding. Even this year's Presidential Election.
A fundamental tenet in marketing is to purposefully develop your brand character. Brand character is when you specifically define upfront the kind of personality you want your brand to exhibit when it interacts with your customers. Some call it brand personality, some call it tone of voice. It's literally choosing human characteristics and applying them to how you want your brand to behave in the marketplace.
Every successful brand has brand character...from L'Oreal to Ford to Nike.
Brand character can become a competitive advantage...it certainly is for Nike over its rivals like Adidas, Reebok, or New Balance. Under Armour is carving out a new brand character in the category to be even more competitive with Nike.
Never before have we seen brand character play such an important role in competition than in this year's Presidential race. There are two very different brand characters in play, and I would argue that after the VP debate we now have four.
In fact, I would wager that it's brand character that we are all debating. I honestly don't think the decision this time around is about policy and I'm not even sure it's about ability (although for some that is a deciding factor). I think the main deciding factor is brand character, with each candidate pointing out the character flaws in the other.
Yes, these are people, so I could easily be calling this personality. But in this case, in this election year, it's brand character. Hillary and Donald are brands; no two ways about it. They have each served themselves up as brands with goals and objectives and a marketing plan to make sure they win. And their brand characters have been steadfastly defined and defended throughout the entire campaign, front and center. So too now for their running mates.
When it comes to brand character, consistency is king. Never before have we seen two candidates so consistent. Their brand characters have never wavered throughout their campaigns, and their brand characters have been at the center of the campaigns. Their brands are what they are...fully baked. Honestly I don't think they even have the ability to change their brands even if they wanted to. Arguably, they've tried with no success. Their brand characters are so a part of their brands that you can't separate them. Front and center.
So net net, we are basically making the decision of a lifetime based on brand characters. Well as a marketer I guest that's ok but as a citizen it makes me more than a little nervous.