The Left and the Right have never been farther apart.
But from a branding perspective, that’s a good thing. It makes it easy to distinguish the characteristics of each party. That should be enough, right? No, it’s NOT!
For Democrats to win the hearts of Americans, and their vote, I believe the language they use has to be radically different. Here’s what Democratic political candidates should be saying from the podium—but aren’t.
1. Speak into our sound bite world.
In the last few years, because texting is so prevalent, everything has become abbreviated. No one has time to type out things like “let me know”, so we have LMK, BTW, LMK, LOL, WTF and OMG. Business names have also evolved to acronyms, as in AMEX, B&N, DKNY and Dunkin.
It’s like a whole new language has emerged. Few people read. They get the synopsis from their TV news station. No one has time.
The Right has weaponized language and taken command of the sound bite.
They keep the message simple, with phrases like “no collusion, “perfect call” and much, much worse. Direct and short, these phrases fit into the text message world we live in, and they stick because they repeat it over and over.
Not only that, because they say such outrageous things, it creates headlines. And that translates into millions of dollars of free publicity.
2. Brand their ideas
The Left has not yet learned what advertisers have known since snake oil was sold from the back of a mule cart. Using words and phrases that stick in people’s minds makes them unforgettable. Green New Deal and Medicare for All aside, they fail to brand their ideas.
With all the policies Warren has written, no one I asked could remember a single one. Maybe they said “tax on the wealthy”, but that’s about it. Read my post on political branding
All of the candidates are brilliant people, but few inspire consistently. I know they can learn. They seem to be stuck in the weeds, and there is a lot at stake.
Here’s what Democratic political candidates should say:
“Imagine how different your life would be if you didn’t have to worry about doctor bills or losing your Medicare.”
“Imagine not having to buy a bullet-proof backpack for your kids.”
“Imagine a future without worrying about pollution that destroys your health and the environment.”
“Imagine not having to hear about the criminal activities of the President every single day.”
“Imagine how you would feel if you didn’t fear a nuclear war might break out any second!”
That one single, beautiful word—imagine—sets off a chain reaction in our minds. We actually begin to imagine how we would feel, and it feels soooooo much better.
Thank you, John Lennon, for writing your enduring song about imagining a world of peace. Those of us who were there know we almost made it. Voices like this are now silent.
3. Stand by a united message
First of all, thank you to Michael Moore, who is devoting his life and extraordinary talents to activism.
Moore’s latest project is a Podcast called “Rumble.” If you haven’t heard it, tune in. Your mind will open and you will find him inspiring.
I got this idea from one of his episodes. It triggered what I have already been thinking, that the Dems are not painting a picture of what life could be like again, without the anxiety, anger, sadness and frustration we are experiencing now. They are just too stuck in policy discussions. I’m sorry everyone, but it’s boring!
This is what Democratic candidates should say to inspire people:
When they speak, they talk endlessly about their policies, not their aspirations. People, especially now in these dark times, want and need hope, a picture of a better future. People turned out in record numbers for Obama, who was a master of optimism.
We need to see how different OUR world will look if they are in power.
In other words, what will be the result of electing them in MY life? Give me a reason! How will my life be better?
5. Follow the same messaging rules as a business.
Many companies typically think a laundry list of their services on their websites and marketing material will entice a sale. This kind of copy is always me-focused, generic and boring. These are the 3 cardinal rules of business messaging:
a. Information inspires no one to open their wallet.
In fact, the opposite is true, it turns them off. It’s easy to write “We are the leading blah blah…”, or say “We have 150 years of combined experience,” but much harder to talk about how your product or service actually impacts people’s lives. Read more about brand strategy here
b. Step into people’s shoes and feel their pain.
We must understand what people deeply want and need, what they fear and what causes them to worry. Millions of books have been written about this, yet most businesses and political candidates still don’t know how to do it. Show me you “GET” me!
c. Talk about the positive result your product or service brings to their lives.
You must create emotion to move people to buy—or VOTE. Only emotions motivate people to buy, subscribe, be loyal or vote.
Did they say “I didn’t vote for Hillary because I didn’t like her policies”? NO! Many said “I don’t like her”, or “she wasn’t inspiring.” Maybe some didn’t trust her after the relentless sound bite attacks on her. I rest my case.
6. Tell me a hankie-worthy story
Many candidates take a crack at storytelling. Warren does it well, Kamala and Cory did too. Most of them can do even better by telling a story that is tied to why they want to change our lives—and make it emotional. This happened______________, and caused this _____________, so I am running to _______________. Most of them are not inspiring, are negative, or are me-focused. People must be motivated and energized to get up and vote!
7. Remember, every candidate and every political party is a brand.
A powerful, united, focused brand message and the right language is what will win this election for the Dems. People need a reason to go and vote! It works in business and I know it will work in politics. How the world will look for us tomorrow is what Democratic political candidates should say today if they want to get out the vote.
I want to work with those running for office. I’m exhausted from signing petitions, sending postcards, money and protesting. I know can use my talents and those of my team to support those who have the courage to step up and be a public servant.
Dare to take a leap and say something different. Give me a call or contact me below!