Because “all politics are local,” today I want to talk about local politics.
It's easy to understand that between state congressional races, city and county commission seats, judge appointments, and more, local races can be very confusing and hard to follow. Often the most important thing a local political wannabe can hope for is to be noticed and remembered.
That must have been the entire strategy of “Doc” Lolomo who's running for state representative in District 115. As you'll see from his election poster below, Lolomo wants you to elect him because he's “The Wise Choice.” And he's confirmed that point by surrounding his name and tagline with stars. He also wants you to know what district he's running in, what seat he's running for, and what number he wants you to select in the voting booth.
My guess is that other than a unique name – Lolomo – there's actually nothing you'll remember about this poster. Nor is there anything you would care about that might coerce your vote.
Ross Hancock, on the other hand, has created a simple poster that tells you everything you need to know to select him. Because his name is the same as the famous signer of the constitution and the insurance company, Hancock has used a recognizable signature to help us remember his name. And by showing someone (I assume it's Ross himself but who knows?) paddling through the Everglades, he's told us something about himself that might resonate with us. Finally, his tagline “Our water. Our kids. Our homes.” tells us both what his issues are and why they matter to us.
While Doc Lolomo has a poster that does nothing except maybe sear his name onto our eyeballs, Ross Hancock has used two of the most important All About Them techniques in his pursuit of local politics.
As I wrote in my new book – All About Them – you want to build an idealized brand that speaks to your audience's needs and, more importantly, their wants. You want to build an idealized brand that resonates with consumers and lets them know that their lives will be better because of you. And you want to build an idealized brand that is truly you, only more so.
- All About Them. Hancock has made his message all about us. Simply by adding the words “our,” and by talking about “Our water. Our kids. Our homes,” Hancock has let us know that he cares about the things we care about and that our lives will be better because of his efforts. Much like President Obama's “Yes we can,” Hancock has a tagline that's positive, inclusive, and aspirational.
- Be Yourself, Be Yourself, Be Yourself. Whether you're a teen idol creating imaginary aspirational romances with hopeful high schoolers, a physician building a bond of trust and commitment with your patients, or a wannabe in local politics, an idealized version of yourself can fulfill the wants and desires of your audience. This hyperrealized self draws us toward the politicians we support just as its absence pushes us away (hear that, Dr. Lolomo?).
In the 2008 presidential election, Barack Obama's “Yes we can” convinced over two-thirds of first-time voters to cast their ballots for the almost unknown freshman Illinois senator. And remember, Obama was running against the very well-known John McCain, a decorated war hero who had served two terms in the US Congress and then 22 years in the Senate. You can't get much more known than that.
While it would be nice to believe that these young American voters chose Obama strictly on the issues and were unswayed by more emotional concerns, cynical realism forces us to accept that their decision reflected how Obama's message resonated with them. “Yes we can” represented the best of what the candidate was offering. But more than that, it represented the best of what voters saw in themselves.
“Yes we can” was truly All About Them. And closer to home in local politics, Ross Hancock's communications are as well.