John McCain’s surprising pick of Sarah Palin as his running mate is an excellent example of his campaign’s branding adjustment. Critics might be picking apart Palin’s credentials and commenting on McCain’s choice, but McCain’s choice for running mate is a huge opportunity to shore up his brand.
Before the Palin selection McCain was floundering between his once clear brand image as a maverick willing to be independent and buck his own party and the brand image that he is closely aligned with President Bush. The Palin selection though sends a clear message that the McCain brand is more about being a maverick and independent above all else. Palin herself is known to have taken on the Alaska Republican party establishment and attempted to clean out corruption. Her own political choices have been unconventional and bold.
As a branding case study, I love McCain’s pick. The act of choosing Palin hearkens back to the McCain brand foundation as independent and following his convictions to do what is best – not always what is popular. Furthermore, Palin’s own political history reinforces the McCain brand image. Clearly it has thrown the Obama camp for a big loop. They’ll have to be readjusting their attack messages based on this pick.
The big question remaining though is how well McCain’s campaign can execute its positioning and targeting. Right now McCain’s positioning has shifted to go after women, independents and social conservatives. Going into the Republican National Convention, they’ll have to refine that positioning and start to target those audiences with the right messages. It’s too early to tell whether the McCain campaign is adept at doing this yet.
Speaking of executing the right positioning and targeting the right audiences with the right messages, I came across a really insightful blog post by Dane Morgan. Dane rightly points out that when blogs address issues that are out of the scope of the blog’s focus, we distort our positioning and risk alienating our readers. Our attention is getting pulled in so many directions that we have such a small window to deliver the right message – especially when readers are reading your blog for information on a particular subject. Staying on message, reinforcing brand attributes and targeting the right audiences is vital for communications success.
I’ll be sure that this blog lives that creed. Let’s see how it shapes up in presidential politics.