Political Marketing: Understanding and Managing Stance and Brand Positioning

University dissertation from Stockholm, Sweden : KTH Royal Institute of Technology

Abstract: This thesis investigates the strategic stance of a political brand and the factors that affect its positioning. The question related to the positioning of a political brand is complex. Nowadays, political leaders should be able to define the characteristics of their political brand. To succeed in the political arena, they must understand, identify, and utilize the most appropriate mechanism of communication to create an accurate perception of their political image in the market that is strictly linked to the characteristics of their brand and to reach these targets. For these reasons, it is mandatory to have measurement methods and comparable results over time. It was decided to divide the overall research problem into four different research questions to explore and explain the mechanism of political brand creation and the interaction between political brands and the electorate and to do so through four different papers. In paper 1, the political environment has been observed and studied. Subsequently, a theory of consumer and product orientation has been identified and utilized to both understand and to strategize how politicians can better position and present themselves to the public and voters. Paper 2 proposes a methodology to measure political positioning and constituent perception. The specific aim of the research is to explore interrelations between a political party's positioning in two different periods to discover possible discrepancies and changes over time. Paper 3 investigates whether the negative impact of a political brand can influence a country's brand. The fourth paper tried to measure how the quality, readability, and frequencies of political messages could provide insight into the effectiveness of viral communication using a political blog. This thesis contributes to the understanding that influence in a political environment happens in a bidirectional manner, where politicians are influenced by voter sentiment and voters are influenced by politicians. The key strategic question then becomes not whether the stance is right but if it is appropriate for the environmental condition in which the party or brand finds itself. If it is, then the party or brand must both reinforce and maintain the mode of focus; if it is not appropriate, then strategists need to identify a more appropriate stance and engineer ways for the brand to move in that direction. Political marketing managers could find the results of this thesis useful for revealing the difference between a political party's positioning and its perceived positioning as well as monitoring it in different periods to discover possible discrepancies over time.