Obama is like Nokia and McCain Apple

NEW YORK - With the 2008 US presidential election just over a week away research into the two presidential candidates' brand strategies has compared Barack Obama to Nokia and John McCain to Apple.

The study by market research firm Synovate has summed up the brand strategy of the Obama campaign as being "you you you" because of the way he strongly associates himself to a handful of key issues.

Obama is seen to connect strongly with registered voters on four main issues -- healthcare, the desire for change, the Iraq war and education.

These four were the most important issues for just under 60% of voters prior to the financial crisis, and just over 60% afterwards. Among women this figure is even higher at nearly 70%.

The study also showed that Obama is resonating more strongly with voters on the economy, more than doubling his connection with voters on this issue, from 5.1% in Synovate's pre-financial crisis survey to 10.6% in the post survey.

Ged Parton, CEO of Synovate's brand & communications practice, said: "Obama pins himself to a handful of key issues, and makes himself accountable to them, in much the same way that a brand like Nokia sells itself on its key service attributes.

"This is about what 'you' -- the consumer or the voter -- is encouraged to buy into. It centres around what he can do to make your life better."

However, according to Synovate voters continue to rate McCain much lower on the economy, indicating that he is still not connecting with them on this issue.

In fact, Synovate's research says McCain does not have a strong connection to the electorate on any one specific issue. The highest connection he establishes is on the Iraq war, with only one in ten citing this as the chief issue that they identify with Republican candidate before and after the financial crisis.

According to Parton: "McCain's approach to his own brand is to focus on the personal -- himself, his experience, and his military background.

"This is a tricky strategy, used by brands like Diet Coke and Apple.

"It is characterised by a confidence to shout about who they are, rather than features or benefits.

"On the surface, it isn't the most obvious association, but, like McCain, these brands simply put out their stall and expect you to work out why you should like them."

Parton adds that with Obama continuing to lead in the polls, it looks like the "you you you" approach is working with voters, for now at least.

The study polled more than 1700 registered voters in total across the US in early and late September using Synovate eNation. Synotate is owned by marketing services group Aegis.