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Political Branding

Political branding is about how a political organisation or individual is perceived overall by the public. It is broader than the product; whereas a product has distinct functional parts such as a politician and policy, a brand is intangible and psychological. A political brand is the overarching feeling, impression, association or image the public has towards a politician, political organisation, or nation. Political branding helps the party or candidate to help change or maintain reputation and support, create a feeling of identity with the party or its candidates and create a trusting relationship between political elites and consumers. It helps political consumers understand more quickly what a party or candidate is about; and distinguish a candidate or party from the competition.

Academic Literature

General and overview

Bal, A. S., L. Pitt, et al. (2009). "Caricatures, cartoons, spoofs and satires: political brands as butts." Journal of Public Affairs 9(4): 229-237.

Cosgrove, Ken (2007), Branded Conservatives: How the Brand Brought the Right from the Fringes to the Centre of American Politics. Peter Lang

Cosgrove, Kenneth M. (2012), ‘Political Branding in the Modern Age - Effective Strategies, Tools & Techniques,' Chapter 9 in the Routledge Handbook of Political Marketing edited by Jennifer Lees-Marshment,  Routledge. 

Cosgrove, Kenneth (2017) ‘So much winning If I get elected that you might get bored with winning: Sports as a brand aspect in the 2016 Presidential Election’ The American Elections Symposium 2017: Broken: Barriers, Parties, and Conventional Wisdom in 2016, New Hampshire Institute of Politics at St. Anselm’s College, Manchester

Downer, Lorann (2015) Political Branding Strategies: Campaigning and Governing in Australian Politics (Palgrave) 

Lees-Marshment, Jennifer (2014) Political Marketing: Principles and Applications 2nd edition. Routledge Chapter 4 Political Branding 

Lilleker, D. and N. Jackson (2010). Interactivity and Branding, public political communication as a marketing tool. Political Studies Association (PSA) Conference: Sixty Years of Political Studies: Achievements and Futures. Edinburgh University, Scotland see

Lilleker, D. G. (2015) ‘Interactivity and Branding: Public Political Communication as a Marketing Tool’, Journal of Political Marketing, 14(1-2), pp. 111–128.

Marland, Alex (2016) Brand Command: Canadian Politics and Democracy in the Age of Message Control, UBC Press.

Mensah, Kobby. 2009. Segmentation and brand development: an Afican perspective. In Political Marketing: Principles and Applications, by J. Lees-Marshment. Oxon and New York: Routledge.

Needham, Catherine (2005). ‘Brand leaders: Clinton, Blair and the limitations of the permanent campaign’.Political Studies, 53(2): 343–61.

Phipps, M., J. Brace-Govan, et al. (2010). "The Duality of Political Brand Equity." European Journal of Marketing 44(3/4): 496-514.

Reeves, Peter, Leslie de Chernatony and Marylyn Carrigan (2006). Building a political brand: Ideology or voter-driven strategy. Brand management, vol. 13(6): 418-428.

Scammell, Margaret. (2015). "Politics and Image: The Conceptual Value of Branding." Journal of Political Marketing no. 14 (1/2):7-18.

Smith, Gareth, and Alan French (2009). "The Political Brand: A Consumer Perspective." Marketing Theory 9, no. 2 : 209-26.



A Vodcast which put emphasis on the views portrayed by Aron O'Cass, Gareth Smith and Alan French along the view of Jip Samhoud, Prime-minister of the Dutch Youth Cabinet and entrepreneur through &samhoud media -

UK - 2010 election

UK election 2010 discussion of branding tactics; see or or The second half is more about branding - c. 4.28 minutes in the programme it changes to Jonathan Gabay of and the Joe Tywman Director of political research of YouGov


In Justin Trudeau’s Ottawa, the brand plays on: DelacourtThe Toronto Star (March 2016)– Article discussing the Trudeau government’s obsession with controlling its image/brand, and relates this to Alex Marland’s claim that this will make it difficult to decentralize power as Trudeau promised.

NZ 2014 Election

How marketing is affecting this electionNZ Herald (September 2014) – Discusses the influence of political marketing on the 2014 NZ general election, highlighting the importance of political strategy, political market research, political branding, and reputation for delivery to electoral success – relates this to findings in TVNZ’s Vote Compass survey.

Election 2014: Our brand is tarnished: ActNZ Herald (September 2014) – Article highlighting comments from ex-Act leader Jamie Whyte that the party’s brand is “tarnished” following an exceptionally poor result in the 2014 NZ election.


Daily, Carol (2017) ‘Why Branding Is Critical During a Political Campaign’ September 28

Ries, Laura (2015) ‘Political branding – 2016 preview’ April 15

Williams, Dellvin Roshon (2017) ‘How Trump’s Political Brand Captured the White House’

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