Why the Hillary Brand Needs Democratic Rivals
It is a mere 18 months until our next presidential election, and already, the media is obsessed with whether or not the Hillary brand can survive her wanton use of a .com email address vs. a .gov one. While it would be interesting to debate the ethical or security or even legal breach of her actions, what is more interesting to me is the notion that a “One brand category”, a la Hillary in the Democratic party, could ever be a sustainable and compelling proposition for consumers, aka voters.
Candidates are brands; they have a positioning, differentiation even logos. Successful candidates are like the best brands, able to make an emotional connection with their audience and communicate a meaningful and relevant differentiation. In the hothouse competitive atmosphere of an election, the brands that succeed are those that are the most adept at constant innovation and reinvention. Candidates are always fighting to create superior value lest they lose their spot at the top of the heap. They actually thrive on daily competition.
Which brings us back to the Hillary brand and the Democratic party. While I realize no one has yet to officially declare their presidency, it seems that the Democratic party is fearful of adding Democratic competitors into the primaries because it may hurt the Hillary brand; the one they believe can win the presidency. But this creates a “One brand category” and is an unfulfilling market place. Robust, captivating elections are those that have options to choose from. Contrast, conversation and differentiation give the electoral marketplace vigor and excitement. Competition creates a context where consumers can see the ‘brands’ in action, giving them more reasons to choose a favorite brand. It could also take the intense scrutiny off of the only horse in the race.