Investigating the multifaceted nature of political co-brands across contexts: typologies, challenges and tensions

  • School: Nottingham Business School

Overview

Politics and the political process remains a complex often controversial area of study. Indeed, over the last twenty years, we have seen the use of commercial branding concepts, theories and frameworks applied to politics as a means to simplify the offering put forward by politicians, political parties, campaign groups, movements and governments. This multidisciplinary approach has become the norm within political marketing. Furthermore, research within political marketing has demonstrated that political brands come in all shapes, sizes and typologies. For example, it is widely accepted that political parties, candidates-politicians, party leaders, election campaigns, political groups, policy initiatives and legislators can be conceptualised as political brands. Political brands act as short-cut mechanisms to communicate desired positioning to a multitude of stakeholders such as supporters, activists, the media, employees and most importantly voters. In addition, political brands are designed to act as points of differentiation from political rivals in terms of policy initiatives, ideology, and values. Furthermore, political brands are constructed to encourage identification and support. Indeed, political brands signify a series of promises and envisaged aspirations, which they will enact if successful at the polls.

One area that has seen limited attention is political co-branding. Armannsdottir et al. (2019:27) define “political co-brands as a ‘system of brands’ manifested from the combination of two existing brands including the ‘corporate party brand’ and ‘individual-candidate-local brand’ amalgamated to create a new brand that embodies a unique single identity”. Political co-branding can be seen as a strategic alliance where both partners develop a single envisaged identity which include both brand names, logos and other identifiable features on all communication touch points of the co-brand to signify a committed partnership (Besharat and Langan 2014; Ronzoni et al. 2018). In addition, each party or partner help create the alliance [co-brand] and can bring unique qualities such as consumer awareness, new target markets, expertise, resources or complimentary reputation to the strategic arrangement (Aqeel et al. 2017; Baumgarth 2018; d’Astous et al. 2007; Kumar 2005; Nguyen et al. 2018; Wason and Charlton 2015). For example, Armannsdottir et al. (2019), revealed that the political co-brand identities in the context of the UK Conservative Party were initially created from individual values, personal ideological beliefs and past personal experiences manifested by the ‘figurehead’ of each political co-brand. The ‘figurehead’ became the walking representation of each political co-brand and used individual values, personal ideological beliefs and experiences as intangible cues to develop a core premise designed to capture the mind of the electorate and serve as justification for the desired identity. This core premise or key message was designed to construct a unique narrative to appeal and engage local constituents, translate corporate Conservative ‘broad church’ values to a local audience and make these relevant and comprehensible to constituents. Therefore, political co-brand identity is strategic in nature in the sense that each identity is tailored to suit the unique settings, wants and needs of the constituency. Further, each political co-brand is supported [by the corporate brand] to determine the political emphasis and agenda for the local community). This demonstrates the complex and multifaceted nature of political brands.

Indeed, political co-brands are difficult to manage. For example, political co-brand identity is tailored to resonate with citizens and developed from the wants and needs of constituents. In addition, the political co-brand identity may be different to the identity of the corporate political brand and this can create tension or misalignment between the two entities. Therefore, who has ultimate control of the political co-brand identity [central or local party] and will misaligned identity have an impact on the political co-brand. This represents a series of challenges and potential tensions not only for political brands in conventional parliamentary systems but also in jurisdictions with coalition governments such Iceland, UK and Italy where multiple political brands are in play. However, little research has been devoted to investigating political co-brands particularly the challenges and tensions between coalition brands, corporate party brands and localised political co-brands. This will be the focus of the project.

References

Aqeel, Z. Hanif, M. I. and Malik, M.S. (2017). “Impact of co-branding and brand personality on brand equity: A study of telecom sector in Pakistan”. Journal of Business and Retail Management Research, 12 (1), 86-93.

Armannsdottir, G. Pich, C. and Spry, L. (2019). “Exploring the creation and development of political co-brand identity: a multi-case study approach”. Qualitative Market Research: an International Journal. ISSN 1352-2752 (Forthcoming).

Baumgarth, C. (2018). “Brand management and the world of the arts: collaboration, co-operation, co-creation, and Inspiration”. Journal of Product and Brand Management, 27 (3), 237-248.

Besharat, A. and Langan, R. (2014). “Towards the formation of consensus in the domain of co-branding: current findings and future priorities”. Journal of Brand Management, 21 (2), 112-132.

d ’Astous, A. Colbert, F. and Fournier, M. (2007). “An experimental investigation of the use of brand extension and co-branding strategies in the arts”. Journal of Services Marketing, 21 (4), 231 –240.

Kumar, P. (2005). “The impact of co-branding on customer evaluation of brand counter-extensions”. Journal of Marketing, 69 (3): 1 –19.

Nguyen, C. Romaniuk, J. Faulkner, M. and Cohen, J. (2018). “Does an expanded brand user base of co-branded advertising help ad-memorability? International Journal of Market Research, 60 (4), 366-379.

Ronzoni, G. Torres, E. and Kang, J. (2018). “Dual branding: a case study of Wyndham”. Journal of Hospitality and Tourism Insights, 1 (3), 240-257.

Wason, H. and Charlton, N. (2015). “How positioning strategies affect co-branding outcomes”. Cogent Business and Management, 2 (1-12), DOI: 10.1080/23311975.2015.1092192

Supervisor

Dr Guja Armannsdottir

Entry qualifications

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Dr Guja Armannsdottir