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← Branding Democracy |Rita Clifton | TEDxHousesofParliament

Rita Clifton is chairman of Interbrand and a speaker and media commentator on all areas of brands, reputation, sustainability, marketing and communications around the world.

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Showing Revision 12 created 07/29/2019 by Ivana Korom.

  1. I love Greece.

  2. And I read ancient Greek
    and Latin at university.
  3. And then of course
    I proceeded to go into a career
  4. that had absolutely
    nothing to do with those.
  5. What it has enabled me
    to do is to be incredibly
  6. annoying and pedantic
    about spelling and grammar.
  7. And also, at least,
    when we are on holiday with the family
  8. I can read some of the signs in Greek.
  9. But I have to say I never imagined
    that my student-self,
  10. my grown-up self would actually be able
  11. to find some sort of accommodation.
  12. And I'll explain
    what I mean by that, I hope,
  13. over the next few minutes.
  14. I'll also explain what I mean by
  15. including this gentleman here,
  16. whom I'm sure you recognize,
    but this is Pericles.
  17. And Pericles was one of the earliest
  18. and most successful democratic
    leaders in ancient Greece.
  19. It is very difficult to find a sculpture,
  20. or a statue of Pericles
    without this helmet on.
  21. And actually, this helmet
    was a symbol of his position.
  22. But actually, the rumor was
  23. it was because he had weird-shaped head.
  24. But nevertheless,
    it was a very strong branded look.
  25. So I suppose you could say
    that about it, too.
  26. But actually, on a more serious note,
  27. what was interesting about
    ancient Greek democracy was,
  28. of course, it was a direct democracy.
  29. People expected to get involved
    in a whole range of issues.
  30. It wasn't just about one vote
    every few years
  31. and representing people for that time.
  32. So maybe there are some
    interesting parallels
  33. for our conversations
    and our democracy today.
  34. But when it comes to that democracy,
  35. at the moment democracy has a bad rep.
  36. A bit of a bad reputation.
  37. Whether or not that's about wars,
    or whether it's failure
  38. to tackle issues like climate change,
  39. whether or not it's attached
    to democracy's difficulty
  40. of getting people to vote
    for pain rather than pleasure
  41. at the moment.
  42. I guess what we all want is for
    democracy to really succeed.
  43. Because that,
    I think we'd all believe,
  44. is the way to get people
    to live healthier,
  45. happier, more productive, safer lives.
  46. Now what good branding does,
    is it does manage to connect with people
  47. to touch people on their daily lives.
  48. And I know what you might say,
  49. buying a household brand
    is not exactly the same
  50. as voting for someone
    who's going to represent your life.
  51. It's on a rather different level.
  52. However, because brands
    do manage to touch people
  53. across boundaries, and by the way
  54. I'm talking about brands
    that can be in any sector.
  55. It can be retail, it can be corporate,
    it can be product,
  56. it can of course be not-for-profit.
  57. And often when people talk about brands,
  58. they can forget that some of the world's
  59. most powerful brands,
    most influential brands,
  60. are in the not-for-profit sector.
  61. Because when I talk about brands,
    I'm not just talking about
  62. the top bit, the logo.
  63. I mean frankly, the week doesn't go past
  64. if we see silly headlines about you know,
  65. this company has been renamed
    that cost 50 million pounds.
  66. And frankly, if any of those
    amounts had been true,
  67. I'd have retired to the Caribbean
    a long time ago.
  68. But it's so easy for people
    to get distracted by
  69. the top bit of branding.
  70. You know the name, and the logo,
  71. and the packaging, and everything else.
  72. And I have to say, that working
    sometimes with political parties,
  73. when you talk about re-branding,
  74. what they really mean
    is could you give us a new squiggle,
  75. and could you give us a new slogan?
  76. What makes good brands really work
  77. is the substance that lies beneath.
  78. You know, the shared vision.
  79. And the minute you start talking
  80. about that substance and shared vision,
  81. you might start thinking about
    some issues with democracy,
  82. is there a shared vision for democracy?
  83. And certainly from what I've seen so far,
    maybe there isn't.
  84. Now, if branding has got some challenges,
  85. then, democracy has, too.
  86. And just on the challenges for branding,
  87. I talked about some headlines
    but also this book,
  88. for example, became a bestseller.
  89. What I'd like to say,
    and it was interesting that
  90. "The Economist" ran this front cover,
    in retort to some of the books
  91. that have been written on the subject.
  92. It was basically talking
    about pro-logo, that actually
  93. branding is a very successful,
    sustainable engine for economies.
  94. And what's more, sometimes people
    underestimate this,
  95. if you've got a strong brand,
  96. you've got a loyal customer.
  97. If you've got a loyal customer,
  98. that means more security of earnings,
    more security of income,
  99. and actually more security of employment.
  100. And that in itself
    is quite an important issue.
  101. And what's more,
    is strongly-branded organizations
  102. got a reputation to protect.
  103. So they're likely to try
    and do the right thing.
  104. However, I guess
    the thing that you'd also say
  105. is that in today's digital age,
  106. unless you are doing the right thing,
  107. unless you are who you say you are,
  108. and you do what you say
    you're going to do,
  109. you'll get found out,
    with a speed and a scale
  110. that will take your breath away.
  111. And the same with political parties,
    and also political leaders.
  112. So absolutely, beware.
  113. Now there are some learnings in my view,
  114. because brands can connect with people,
    get them to vote for people every day,
  115. either in their purchases,
    or their influence.
  116. I just want to use an example of that.
  117. What was so interesting
    in some of the latest elections
  118. in Greece or in France,
    is again how difficult it is
  119. to get the people to vote
    for difficult things.
  120. And the temptation so often,
    in politics, and in parties,
  121. is to do equivalent of a BOGOF.
  122. Have you heard of BOGOF?
  123. Buy one get one free.
  124. So coming up to elections
  125. and what political parties
    start saying is, retire at 50?
  126. Absolutely. We'll have that
    supermarket special offer.
  127. Do you want to, you know,
    get a full pension, etc?
  128. Absolutely, we'll do that.
  129. So, politicians privately say,
    "Oh my goodness,
  130. we know that we're promising
    things that we can't deliver
  131. and can't afford to deliver,
  132. but we do need to get voted in."
  133. It's a very compromising thing.
  134. And what's more,
    when they can't deliver at a later date,
  135. that makes people rather cynical,
  136. and not supportive of politics,
  137. and the temptation to make
    promises that you can't keep.
  138. Not a great commercial,
    often for democracy.
  139. Now I'm just going to talk
    briefly about this very strong brand here.
  140. Apple hardly ever discounts,
    it doesn't do deals,
  141. it's very engaging with its consumers,
  142. and with apologies to a previous speaker,
  143. it does have a strong vision.
  144. It talks about, man shall not be
    subordinate to machine.
  145. And it's easy to be cynical
    about this kind of stuff,
  146. and actually in the UK sometimes
  147. we've elevated cynicism to a fine art.
  148. On the other hand, it really
    does connect with people,
  149. it really has engaged with people.
  150. And what's more of course,
    Apple had a leader
  151. who enthralled enough consumers
  152. to vote for Apple to make it the world's
    most valuable company.
  153. And that's despite the fact
    that it's incredibly expensive,
  154. relatively speaking.
  155. It occasionally makes mistakes,
    and whisper it,
  156. occasionally it can be
    a little bit arrogant.
  157. So, I don't think
    we'd say that Apple employees
  158. felt that it was particularly democratic.
  159. But what we would say though,
    if you just looked in a market place,
  160. at what's happening here,
  161. so you look at these declines,
  162. even if those are little blip at the end
    of some of these graphs,
  163. and you would say,
  164. "Hm, you need a bit of innovation,
  165. you need some radical, strategic input,
  166. you need some new brands,
    for goodness sake."
  167. And again, these are the numbers
    of people who are not voting.
  168. This is the decline
  169. in numbers of voters just across the UK,
  170. and across the USA.
  171. So clearly, we need to do something.
  172. No wonder people are disengaged.
  173. No wonder people are disengaged.
  174. Because of course,
    you can only vote for people
  175. every few years.
  176. You can't make your views felt
  177. you can't make your views count,
  178. in a democratic process,
    more often than that.
  179. And that again,
    compared with what you can do
  180. in the commercial space these days,
  181. you can shape brands,
    you can make your views felt,
  182. you can really make some changes.
  183. And yet actually in politics,
    in democracy,
  184. it's really quite difficult to do that.
  185. So we need some innovation,
  186. and we need to send
    these graphs, in my view,
  187. in the opposite direction.
  188. You can compare the shape of these
  189. with for example what happens with
    strongly branded businesses over time.
  190. And just see how strongly
  191. well-branded businesses outperform
    the average of others.
  192. And I guess that we can do
    with a little bit of movement in this way,
  193. in democracy itself.
  194. And the take-up of democracy as well.
  195. Because if you were to look
    at those previous charts,
  196. you'd say, actually
    there's a problem here,
  197. the management is pretty rubbish.
  198. And not doing a great job.
  199. And again, we need
    to break out and do something
  200. very different.
  201. So are there some lessons
    we can learn from
  202. branding to democracy that doesn't involve
  203. a spanking new logo
    or indeed a new slogan?
  204. If you were to take the top 100 brands,
  205. we've looked at them
    for about last 15 years
  206. there are three key
    characteristics that come up
  207. time after time.
  208. And what makes a strong brand
    that might be very good
  209. as a comparator with democracy.
  210. And the first one is about clarity.
  211. Clarity of what the brand stands for,
  212. how it's different from the competitors,
  213. and of course right now
    you look at democracy and say,
  214. is it very clear what we mean by democracy
  215. is that a shared vision?
  216. I mean half of the world
    live in some sort of democracy,
  217. only 11% live in a full democracy.
  218. But of course, there are different
    ways of doing that for democracy,
  219. either forced or otherwise voluntary.
  220. And many different points of view
    about how to engage.
  221. Now if you are going to be creating
    a global brand
  222. and take some lessons from there,
  223. you'd actually bother
    to ask the people who really matter,
  224. like your customers.
  225. Your consumers.
  226. How about asking people around the world
  227. because in the moment,
    what happens, with democracies,
  228. is that it always act like export brands,
  229. and of course, if you've got
    an American export brand
  230. or Western-European export brand,
  231. that might not go down
    very well the way it is done,
  232. in other parts of the world.
  233. So, if you wanted
    to create a global brand,
  234. you'd start with a global perspective.
  235. You might get some experts
    from around the world.
  236. Possibly not politicians,
    who've come to think about
  237. what are the best practices
    and evidence-base to the best practice,
  238. for how you absolutely deliver democracy
  239. in a way that was most likely to deliver
  240. the healthiest, wealthiest,
    and safest societies.
  241. So clarity and consistency,
    if you just think about
  242. consistency in a political context,
  243. and you'd say, actually,
    a lot of political parties
  244. for example, they're not
    executed consistently.
  245. What about coherence in policies?
  246. This currently doesn't work
    as well as it might do.
  247. And of course,
  248. the final characteristic of a very
    successful brand is about leadership.
  249. And leadership is obviously about
  250. who runs the organization,
    who symbolizes the organization.
  251. As of course, it can apply
    both to commercial
  252. and also to political parties.
  253. But it also means restlessness,
  254. it means innovation,
    it means setting the agenda in markets.
  255. And maybe that isn't always done in,
  256. if I can call it,
    the political market, too.
  257. When one thinks about leadership,
  258. and RIP Steve Jobs,
  259. but what he did do though,
    he absolutely symbolized
  260. all the best characteristics
    of the Apple brand.
  261. And I wonder how it will survive
    and thrive after he has gone.
  262. And then when one thinks
    about the political world,
  263. obviously there are some political leaders
  264. who've been rather
    more successful than others.
  265. And rather more successful
    people at persuading
  266. that through the pain, there will be
    some pleasure at the end of it,
  267. and that it's worth
    absolutely sticking through that.
  268. But just back to Pericles
    and back to ancient Greece, again,
  269. coming back to direct democracy,
  270. ways of getting people involved
    in the political process,
  271. on a much more active level,
    this has to be absolutely,
  272. the way forward and it would be great,
  273. I've shared some ideas maybe how to use
    the principles of branding,
  274. to engage people in a democracy,
  275. and I'd be fascinated
    with your ideas, too,
  276. and thank you to Greece
    and thank you to Pericles
  277. for the inspiration.
  278. Many thanks for listening.
  279. (Applause)