Empower your business with the language of politics
Embrace the proven messaging strategies behind all the hot air.
Words: Simeon de la Torre, owner of SIM7
No matter which way you lean on the subject, you can’t have helped but notice that Boris Johnson uses the phrase ‘Get Brexit Done’ a lot. It’s used in a structured context as a headline on Conservative websites and marketing materials, and interestingly, it’s also used almost conversationally by Boris and his ministers.
And while, at the time of writing, Brexit isn’t actually done yet, the slogan did herald a renewed effort to renegotiate the deal and push through the legislation. Meanwhile, Labour’s ‘For the Many, Not the Few’ has lasted longer than many of the party’s previous slogans and perfectly captures its vision and ethos (even if it doesn’t work quite so well as a conversational device).
Both of these phrases have become part of the national psyche and join a roster of other political slogans from all over the world that have cut through the noise and resonated with voters.
- Make America Great Again
- Change We Can Believe In
- It’s Time to Get Britain Working
- Let’s Take Back Control
- Britain Deserves Better
- Labour Isn’t Working
The list goes on and on.
Part of the reason why these lines work is because political parties tend to have big advertising budgets and they also have countless on-air opportunities to promote their messages. But businesses can learn valuable lessons from the political parties and apply this type of messaging – albeit on a smaller scale – to their marketing.
As with everything, there’s a knack to getting it right.
Back when I was a freelance copywriter, one of my clients specialised in applying language to global political campaigns. They were spectacularly successful in several countries and, as a result, moved into the commercial arena. Many, many household brands have since employed their services and it’s very likely that you will recognise their work. Or rather: their words.
As a result of this experience, I learned a lot about the use of slogans, straplines and soundbites to influence decision-making, and in fact, we use many of those techniques here are SIM7 today. It’s a process that has three main parts.
The first task is to create the primary strapline – let’s call it a ‘hero’ line – which is perhaps the trickiest thing to get right as it’s a distillation of what the company or campaign is all about, combined with an attention to rhythm, pace, balance, resonance, clarity of the message. There may possibly be some word play involved and a pinch of magic dust.
Next, and this is an often-overlooked part of the process, you need more than a single hero line to drive a campaign.
What’s required is a handful of supporting messages to lend weight and influence. In politics, behind every snappy, mind-snagging hero line such as ‘Make America Great Again’, there’s a carefully crafted hierarchy of these supporting lines – remember ‘Drain The Swamp’, ‘Build The Wall’ and ‘Lock Her Up’? – and they each play their part. (Exactly how all these lines should be used together is a SIM7 trade secret, I’m afraid.)
Finally, it’s about repetition. And this is perhaps the most straightforward part of the process.
Unsurprisingly, we have our own hero line at SIM7 – we describe our agency as a ‘Lean, Mean Creative Machine’ – and this line appears on everything we touch. I say it at networking and in pitches; it’s front and centre on our website; it’s our main Google tagline; and it’s across all our socials and LinkedIn. Is it hitting home with our audience? Absolutely. Similarly, one of our clients is fanatical about their hero line: ‘Our family-run estate agency puts people first’ and their efforts have managed to shift public perceptions in a competitive market.
As we become an ever more politically charged society, it’s likely that more and more political slogans will permeate into the national consciousness. They work. They influence audiences and create change. Which is exactly what every marketing department in every company in the land is trying to achieve.
Perhaps it’s time to get your company hero messaging, er, done.
Simeon de la Torre is the founder of SIM7 agency, Bristol’s lean mean creative machine.