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The Importance of Branding

When did “ideological” become a bad thing?  It used to be that having an ideology meant one relied on a principled and coherent philosophical system in order to make governance decisions.  Actually, it still means that, but for some reason certain circles of people spit the term out as if the object of their derision wore a scarlet “I”.  They tend to treat people who adhere to conservative, libertarian or liberal world views as close-minded fanatics who promote extremism.  And anyone who proudly fights for partisan (i.e. Democratic or Republican Party) ends is simply mucking up the works and preventing real change from happening.  In other words, bi-partisanship is the only means of moving forward, and those who brand themselves as one thing or another make compromise impossible.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

The funny thing is, no matter what anyone says to the contrary, labels are important.  Indeed, they’re indispensible.  The whole point of labels and branding is to convey important and consistent information.  It greatly shortens the amount of time people need to spend researching different candidates and issues.

In the commercial realm, this is done by making sure, for example, that every Denny’s looks the same when entering and has the same menu, or that every Shell gas station provides the same cleanliness, and pricing options.  By breeding familiarity, more customers will opt to sit down at, say, an Outback Steakhouse when visiting an unfamiliar place: they already know the choices and value they will receive there, and don’t need to research all the possible alternatives, possibly getting something they don’t want.

The importance of branding is just the same in the political world.

For the most part, voters are far too busy worrying about their everyday lives (e.g. getting food on the table, gas in the car, Johnny’s homework done, Sally’s college applications submitted, and retirement accounts funded, etc., etc.) to give much thought to politics.  Most of them have one or two issues that drive most of their voting decisions, and they rely exclusively on branding to know who they will pull the lever for on election day.  Knowing what each brand stands for in relation to that voter’s preferences means less time following Inside-the-Beltway rigmarole and more time paying attention to what’s truly important to that voter and her family.

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