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Thursday, September 27, 2012

“Hey Mitt, It’s Your Brand, Stupid” – How Mitt Romney Can Fix His Brand and Save His Candidacy.

For all his supposedly strong business acumen, it is amazing that Mitt Romney has not done a better job in developing the “Mitt Romney” brand. Given the election cycle, candidates have a very short period of time in which to establish a credible brand that is appealing to their consumer base (in this case, the voting public). In 2008, President Obama created a powerful brand that was epitomized by one word, “Change”. If you were to ask 100 people on the street what word or phrase best described Mitt Romney, you would not hear one consistent phrase. That is a sign of a weak brand. Meanwhile, Obama has managed to cultivate his brand with surgical precision. Obama stands for something. One may not like what he stands for, but there is no doubt that Obama has a crystal clear brand positioning.

But for Mitt Romney to have any chance at all in unseating the president, he needs to quickly establish the Mitt Romney brand and launch it when he has the largest platform of the campaign - the first debate on October 3. In creating his brand, he needs to remember these 3 fundamental rules of brand positioning.

- Identify a crystal clear target audience – Romney is still trying to appeal to way too many voters. As controversial as the “47% comment” was, there was an underlying point. Romney will never tap into the Democratic base. He is no Ronald Reagan. So, politically speaking, he should not waste any resources against this group in his marketing. Romney needs to identify the voters that will be the key to winning in November and truly understand what their needs are and develop a plan that addresses those needs better than his opponent. He needs to stop trying to be all things to all people.

- Sacrifice - Romney’s other big problem is that he has been trying to woo independent voters, who are in the middle and whose philosophies are very difficult to articulate. They may be liberal on some issues and conservative on others. And those issues may differ from one voter to the next. As a result, this has caused Romney to “Flip Flop” as he vacillates to appeal to those voters. He needs to stand for ONE point of pain that his target audience has in common. He needs to focus on this one point and not try to communicate multiple messages. A best in class example is Bill Clinton’s 1992 campaign message “It’s the economy, stupid.” In Clinton’s 1992 campaign, he sacrificed every other message to keep the focus on the economy. This leads us to…..

- Stay On Message – Romney needs to understand that everything communicates. Every speech, every tweet, and every bumper sticker must be aligned to that one key message. Everything needs to focus on that point of pain. Even when answering a reporter’s question or in Wednesday’s debate, Romney always needs to bring it back to the key message he wants to articulate. Obama successfully did this with the “change” mantra in 2008. Romney must do it now. Every minute discussing something else, is one less minute to bring home his core message.

Time is running out for Mitt Romney. Without a substantial brand “repositioning,” he will find himself on the short end of the stick come November 6th.

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