We are born to trust.
For example, to have faith that a mother will provide milk. It is after all, instinctive. However, as we we grow older that same parent will teach us to be wary of the world – not to trust everything or every person. Yet, when society trusts itself, wonderful things happen. Economies boom, infrastructures repair and unity strengthens.
It is a two-way street where the trustee and trusted depend on each other with mutual respect in favour of a greater good for all.
Smile you are on CCTV
Increasingly we live in a mistrusting society. Once given bastions of truth such as politicians, police, clergy and big brands are now dispraisingly looked upon through cynical eyes.
Brands for example on one hand broadcast messages infused with sincerity and empathy and then on occasion are found to recall not just products, but their trust in consumers to accept mistakes, which if caught early enough, could have been rectified and forgiven.
Too often, social responsibility turns out to be little more than neatly painted whitewash to present a more acceptable face of what business is, after all, in business for – to make profits.
Politicians, especially during an election period, offer sound bites promising ‘big societies’, ‘a future fair for all’, ‘government we can trust’…
Like brands, parties deliver a stream of images and packaged promises designed to give a sense of what the party truly believes.
However such messages are in constant conflict with societal signifiers that may suggest an opposite underlying point to the sanitised or idealised political one.
Bursting scandals, revelations and commentaries train us to learn to expect spin to invariably follow pledges.
We develop a kind of in-built radar that recognises not the lies from the truth, but the truth from the lies.
In the past, politicians could easily manage perceptions through well-defined media channels. Today thanks to the 24 hour news, web, blogs, Tweets and so on… politicians can’t hide from the stage that stretches across the wide web and reaches the inner psyche of a confused voter who is so bombarded with so many similar choices that he or she becomes not just bewildered but bitter.
Through instantly scrutinising every painfully extreme detail of a political message we get so close to nuances that we can no longer judge the bigger picture.
Truth lives only as long as a given moment or click.
Without a longer period to view in retrospective, we no longer judge the bigger picture. We naturally conclude that every confusing fuzzy detail must simply be further proof that it is, in the end, all spin and no substance.
So what can politicians do to garner our trust?
Political brands must be consistent in what they preach. Not all policies will please all voters. This is actually good- it creates integrity and clear water between one political brand and another.
Just as with brands, political values need to be understood and practiced not just be leaders but everyone allied with the party. In so doing, manifestos become social causes. (All sincere causes are greater than promises).
Just as with business leaders, political leaders need to be seen and appreciated through context and content as being responsible lions addressing confident communities rather than lapdog chameleons addressing transient drifters.
Such leaders need to be themselves, complete with humility, human faults and quirks – not just managed alter egos. By being – not acting – genuine, leading not exclusively from the front or back – but centre of the pack, they can set examples accepting mistakes and giving credit where it is due.
In branding, consumers must be able to recognise themselves in a product and so feel aligned with a brand. In political branding, parties need to reflect what a nation is and what every individual can become.
With great thanks for support in writing this article to Roger Steare- Europe’s premier corporate philosopher
Wednesday, April 14th, 2010 at 10:05 amand is filed under 2010 election branding, Brand expert, Branding, Gordon brown brand, government branding, Labour party branding, Politics, politics on twitter, UK party politics branding, web 2.0 UK general election. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.