No matter who you ask, today is a good day to take a side. For the third time in my lifetime, the government has… closed. Closed? That’s such a weird concept, and yet, it has. Shut its doors, shut down National Parks, shut down a large part of Washington D.C. Closed. And it’s over a fundamental, very distinct difference in opinion between democrats and republicans concerning health care reform in our country. And I’m not going to talk about what I think and why. There are thousands of blogs out there for that. I’m actually concerned, for the sake of this blog, more with the way branding plays a role in how we got here.
When you brand your business, you want to set yourself apart from the competition. Be that with lower prices, better service, more perks, even little things like later/earlier hours, or free swag at the door like lapel pins. You work hard to keep that distinction clear, and to prevent any ambiguity between yourself and your competitors. It’s a desirable place to find yourself in: everything your competition isn’t, in every beneficial way. Well, that’s what congress has done.
In the past three or four elections, politics has become increasingly polarizing. Arguably since the 1960′s it’s been so. Regardless, republicans have moved further to the right, democrats to the left, and a moderate on either side is considered a traitor to both and either has to pick an extreme or perish. In a sense both parties have been branding themselves, working very hard at it. They want to be everything their competition isn’t. They don’t want the American public to just vote, they want every American to be registered red or blue, to have their lapel pins, their talking points, and their fighting spirit on hand at all times. But what I think has escaped people is that, unlike business branding, politics isn’t about extremes: it’s about compromise.
Some claim government and business are almost interchangeable. I would argue that if they are… they shouldn’t be. Branding has its place. Polarizing oneself from the competition has an important role to play. My company helps other businesses make that branded distinction. But in politics, as cool as the lapel pins are… compromise and progress are so much better.