Branding Bad: Election 2016 and the Painfully High Cost of Marketing on the Cheap

Marketing and Branding. Do it cheap and fast, expect problems. Writing? Same drill.

Elections 2016. What a train wreck. I have work I should be doing, but I can’t help looking at the arguments I make for care in creating marketing content — and how sometimes people are so fixated on low cost and fast turns that they take insane risks with their brand development.

You would think. You would think that our two powerhouse political parties (and with only two, it’s always a fight, never a party) would easily have the resources to market their selected candidates effectively. Just as any (successful) startup would.

I’m reminded of young Summer days, walking across a hot parking lot, with my shoes getting caught in the melting tar. Once you’re halfway in and realize you should have walked around on the grass, it’s a bit late. Let’s jump right into some of the recent messes.

Melania Trump’s Plagiarized Speech (Copyscape anyone? How about 5 minutes on YouTube?)

Morning Joe got an early jump on this debacle, broken down by Raw Story:

‘Morning Joe’ panel blasts Trump campaign for Melania’s plagiarized speech: ‘It is a ripoff’

Melania Trump gave the first major speech of her life Monday night at the Republican National Convention — but her success will be overshadowed by some pretty obvious plagiarism accusations.  Portions of the speech closely resembled a speech given by Michelle Obama in 2008 at the Democratic National Convention, and panelists on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” blamed Donald Trump’s bare-bones campaign staff for the ethical lapse. Read more at rawstory.com.

Here’s the full segment from Morning Joe panel:

The Problem with Speechwriting in 2016

Tools exist to both allow and prevent cribbing the writing of others. For an event to be viewed by 35 million, it’s unbelievable to think that something like this happened.

Let’s move on to something that all brands need and all brands screw up, from the pizza shop on the corner, to Uber. Logos.

The Art of the 5 Billion Dollar Brand and the Fifty Dollar Logo

I don’t have the words. Let’s just take a look.

It gets even worse.

And then there is this. Note while inserting the media (cough) in WordPress, I chose to change ‘Align Left’ to No Alignment. I’ll see myself out.

trump pence logo matt everett

OK. So Team Trump went back to Fiverr or Hire-a-Freelancer and got a graphic designer to take out the offending artwork for 20 bucks or whatever.

trump pence logo before and after

But the damage had already been done. The logo wasn’t BAD. But it wasn’t VETTED outside their little circle. And they didn’t hire a designer who had experience vision boarding, roundtabling, and other snarky little design activities that are very precious and probably not very Republican, but lead to giant embarrassments like this being avoided.

Let’s not lay only into the Trump campaign. Here’s Team Hillary’s disastrous logo.

Sounds like a stretch. But people are smart. They are visual. And they will make connections.

Arguments could be made in defense of each logo, of course. Again, they are not BAD.

But here is what the two logos do have in common. They look fracking cheap. They look like they came from a freelancer site. They could very well have been created in Microsoft Paint.

Now hang on you say. Wasn’t the Nike logo $50? What about Apple’s first logo? Points taken. But in 2016, whether for a brief political campaign, a startup, or a business, you do not have 20 years to develop your branding. Do it badly on a big stage and you will lose massive brand capital. At smaller scale, you will simply be quietly rejected and lose opportunity and traction.

Branding and good copy matter

Invest in each, or perish. Gotta get back to work. My Clients pay me to put them in the best light and never to embarrass them or harm their brand. I take that dead serious.

Salut.

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✍ Erik J. is the founder and director of Launch Module Media based in Greater New York City.

Featured image via nbcnews.com. Select article content courtesy of msnbc.com, rawstory.com, behance.net/matteverett and and twitter.com.