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Brand lessons from US election process

I will always recall this year for numerous historic unexpected world outcomes. As the year comes to an end, it remains filled with thought-provoking and unanticipated outcomes beyond most of our minds’ comprehension.

brand savvy with Stha Magida & Mufaro Zhou

Like someone posted on one of the social media platforms, it’s the year a soccer team which was rated 5 000/1 odds won the English Premier League. It’s also the year that surprisingly the United Kingdom voted for Brexit and to cap the year the world woke up to a Donald Trump victory.

As I followed the United States election process without much interest in the beginning, I ultimately related the events to the subject of branding that I truly enjoy. The election process had its anxious moments, among them the women and email scandals, not forgetting the interesting election debates which divulged how Americans had weak presidential candidates. All this ultimately climaxed last Tuesday with the most unanticipated and shocking result after the people had spoken.

The whole US election process just strengthened the opinion that we should not always read much into the analysis you hear in the media, no matter how influential the TV channel is. Media has the ability to determine and forecast outcomes to a great extent. However, there are other critical factors like customer or rather voters in this case who will determine the true outcome of a brand. Media is a good propaganda tool which will project a particular situation in the way it sees it fit, however, not being necessarily true.

You will also notice that a number of businesses might have silent but very supportive customers who can be a big influence in the final outcome of a brand. The silence of such customers might need to be clearly read into to aid projecting future performance of a particular brand, especially if the customers are deemed to be many. A survey or opinion poll is only as good as the voices that participate in it. Eventually the underestimation of the discontentment and disengagement of current and potential customers can bring down your brand in a surprising manner.

As I analysed the election process further, I concluded that the brand that starts off as the slowest and highly unpopular and is written off initially will not necessarily end up being the loser. When Donald Trump joined the Republican Party primaries in early April, he only had 3,6% of the polls with four out of 11 candidates having more than 9% each. However he eventually led the primary polls with an overwhelming majority in his party and eventually went on to become the president elect. Self-determination, a good strategy and customer (electorate) charm will indeed make a difference at the end of the day. You can’t pull down a strong brand no matter the scandals against it. I look at the Samsung mobile phone and washing machine’s current problems, including the VW scandal and remain very optimistic that these are brands that will emerge from such setbacks better and stronger.

On the other hand, you can try completely new things in life and end up more victorious compared to your current activities. Trump without any political experience went on to win the US presidential election. A product can come into your existing market and rapidly take over without any previous experience. There are companies that have diversified completely into new markets and went on to build strong brands in those areas. Samsung has grown enormously over the years and taken over new markets, and you won’t even remember whether they started by producing TVs or mobile phones.

At the end of the day, the one likely to win is the person with the seemingly most practical and genuine solutions even though a specific group views their weaknesses as catastrophic. The brand that projects itself to solve problems for the consumer will eventually take the crown. You can’t keep your brand at an unchanged level for a protracted time and expect to forever win the consumers’ hearts. Beta bricks took the building market to the next level with their automated delivery truck, fast outpacing bigger and better known players. You have to continuously innovate your brand to satisfy the urge within customers who are dying for a change.

As I look at Hillary Clinton and the Democratic Party in general, I conclude that the success of your previous brands (Bill Clinton and Barrack Obama) does not necessarily guarantee success of the current brand. Some competing brands will unpredictably outrun you when you least expect it, hence the need never to underestimate your competitors. On that interesting note, I urge you to always innovate and safeguard your brand as it can be unexpectedly trumped beyond your wildest imagination.

Till next week, keep reading and remain brand savvy.

Stha Magida is contactable on Her co-writer is contactable on

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