There are six key aspects in political branding: party, policies, leader, candidates, issues, and services. It is very important to know that any political branding exercise can’t separate these six aspects when it comes to it. This is my attempt to understand the basics of political branding in India and where do all political parties stand in these aspects. I must say that I have been observing the behaviour of most of the political leaders from all key political parties in India both national and regional. Here I would not like to talk of global political leaders and political parties.
Politics in a country like India which is played at a complex landscape of capitalist, society, communist, secularist, etc.., has become directionless. It is very difficult to differentiate views of political leaders and respective political parties. Most of them talk the same thing in different manner, confusing the voters all the time. The big common point amongst all political parties is the race to position themselves either as secular – primarily religiously inclined to more than one religious views, or have differentiated themselves as religious – inclined towards one religious view but support all other religious views. If you read it right they are saying the same thing in different ways. Most importantly all the major national and regional parties have increasingly realigned their base to the views they feel might benefit them in dividing India on the basis of religion, cast, creed, status, etc.
Any marketing guy can easily relate this situation to the classic case of branding cola – Pepsi and Coke. Both these brands are mostly dependent on advertising, media spend, presence in market, availability, etc. If you read it right these two biggest global brands are offering the same thing but differentiating on the basis of emotional appeal, branding, media spent, and availability. In my views political parties in India needs to do the same to come out of the clutter of ‘commodity of politics’.
All the major national and regional parties to come out of ‘commodity of politics’ need money to be relevant and for that they need to be dependent on donations. This fuels interesting politician-business nexus. The cash-for-access politics is one of the prominent tools to get in power. The business also know well that political parties need money to be relevant in this commodity market and hence with their money business access to government and opposition is guaranteed. This helps them control both the opposition and government. The ‘commoditization of politics’ in India is one of the keys to corruption in the political system. I understand that all of this sounds like capitalist twist to the issue, but that’s how it is.
All political parties, in India have been business friendly but can’t avoid importance of trade unions. We all know that at end of the day they are the vote bank. Political parties demand money from business houses to win hearts of the voters, which is primarily the working class. Here, I will take liberty to say that socialist and communist wing of the parties comes in to play to manage the business and trade relationship.
Now, I can safely say that ‘Business of Politics’ in India has become a commodity for sale at political market prices which is traded in a mixed bag of ideologies and emotion. But sadly the ideology which was once based on capitalist, socialist, communist, secularist, etc.., has lost its relevance and vote bank has got prominence. The sad part of the business of politics in India is almost all parties are one and the same. They are a deadly cocktail of capitalist, socialist, and communist. Hence something called Brand Identity or Political Brand Identity has lost its significance. Today, it’s all about commoditization of Political Brands in Indian political landscape.