The democratic political product is complex and untangible. An underlying assumption of a democratic system is the involvement of voters, or consumers, but with contemporary political apathy this aspect is relatively unacknowledged. This paper aims to explore the role of the consumer in political branding.
Two contrasting case studies compare the balance between the corporate brand of the political party and the brand image of two different kinds of local politician. Aaker's “Brand Equity Ten” is adapted to provide a suitable conceptual framework for the case study comparison.
Investigating the interaction between the community and politicians drew out important implications for the political brand. The paper concludes that managing the political brand entails a recognition of the inherent duality that resides in the political product. In an environment of reduced differentiation of political offerings to the electoral marketplace it is important for politicians and the political party to make early decisions about which aspect of this brand duality best serves individual careers and the party. Key to this decision is the opinion‐leading role of politically aware consumers.
This research shows that an individual politician's brand can compete with or enhance the corporate political party brand, which implies that political branding must take into account the communication role of the highly involved consumer.
This paper examines the under‐researched area of consumer contribution to political branding. The role of highly involved political consumers in constituency politics is clearly shown to affect the politician's brand equity. This leads to a re‐conceptualisation of the politician's brand vis‐à‐vis the political party brand.
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