A-brand1Brands have the greatest impact when they touch an emotional nerve. Especially in elections. When the brand message reverberates on that emotional nerve, three very interesting and important phenomena takes place.

1) The brand is remembered and noticed. When an emotion is struck, it is felt, by definition, and is virtually impossible to ignore

2) The brand is placed. By this I mean it is provided with an emotional context that allows us to understand where the brand belongs in the flood of ideas and messages that come our way every day. Being able to “place” a brand message is the first step in understanding the brand’s meaning. It is the route every brand must take if it is striving for acceptance and new customers.

3) The motivational ideas transform themselves into equity markers. This is an important transformation because equity markers are the “things” we witness (see, here, taste, and feel) that seem to belong to that brand. When we experience these markers, we are instantly reminded of that brand and because the brand has been placed, we are able to file all of this information and feeling into the cubby hole that our brains now reserve for that brand

If you think this is just the ramblings of a brand theorist, I want to share with you exactly what brought these ideas to mind this morning, and why it matters to all of us.

I was driving to the office this morning and I was listening to NPR’s Morning Edition. In the course of 10 minutes, I heard three equity markers mentioned and expounded on, and all three of them belong to the Republican Party. They spoke of Grizzly Moms, Obamacare, and the Tea Party.

This is not a dissertation on ideology. (You would be hard pressed to guess my political bent.) It is simply a brand guy seeing a political party that uses its brand capital well.

The Republicans have not only defined the political agenda in the US, they have defined the language in which the debate is framed. Brand genius? Might well be.

I have to think hard to find a political equity that the Democratic Party has defined and used. I’m not talking about slogans like “Yes We Can.” Slogans have short lifetimes and feel “authored.” Equity markers are carefully designed ideas that resonate and become part of the vernacular.

If brand is any indicator, the Democrats have a tough road ahead of then in November. That is, unless they can revive New Deal or Great Society.