Brands should emulate Bernie Sanders' relentless discipline on messaging

Bernie Sanders is the most 'on message' candidate in modern politics, writes Daniel Williams, luxury and lifestyle planner at Leo Burnett.

Sanders: maintaining a clear, disciplined message for voters
Sanders: maintaining a clear, disciplined message for voters

He never waivers, he hammers home the point and has built a seriously focused brand of politics. Every single target voter knows what he stands for and many of them are calling back his most famous lines at his over-flowing rallies. He’s got what every brand strives for: discipline.

Sanders understands that voters don’t have the time, energy or will to decode what a candidate stands for so the message presented by the campaign must be clear, concise and consistent.

Most political candidates become distracted by the issue of the day or are baited into responding to a competitor’s agenda. But not Bernie. Bernie is focused. He holds fast to his campaign message of tackling wealth inequality and resists the distraction of a media cycle that’s taunting for attention.

Marketers must embrace and emulate this discipline. Over time, a brand purpose can become muddled and clouded by complexity and distraction.

Brands dilute their core message in a leap for new markets or onto a bandwagon of transient trends. They shouldn’t. They have to resist the temptation and remain true to the core brand equity whilst still delivering that message in new and creative ways.

That’s the challenge. That’s the balance that has to be achieved. Brand managers will know it is working when people start repeating their own lines back to them.

Much of that is about repetition but that is not to say brands should only talk about the same narrow set of issues in the same way all the time. It means they should identify the messages that are most important to the campaign and give repeated prominence to them. The best campaigns are dynamic, replaying a core message in numerous different forms over time.

The world’s most valuable brands know it’s impossible to target every need of every consumer in every market. Instead they focus on providing a select excellence to a specific demand.

Brands must prioritise the crucial messages, values and skills that will provide a competitive advantage in the market with an uncompromising regard for focus. Because branding means that everything you do, and everything you say about yourself, must hang together as a coherent whole. It takes relentless discipline to stay on message, on brand, and on strategy.

Simplicity, focus and discipline. That is what it takes to create a sustained competitive advantage. That is what it takes to grow powerful brands.