Branding is a powerful tool in marketing which can make or break a product onto the market. Powerful brands are built overtime and they are built on delivering the promises they purport to deliver. Brands are packaged so that they appeal to the customers. But the most powerful concept that propels bands to outshine others in the same category is brand loyalty. Products have shelf time but that life can be extended by reinventing themselves, repackaging, resizing and many other things in order for them to recapture the existing market and in some cases also gain new markets. Successful companies employ expert brand managers that track the brands on the market, tracking how it is faring against competition and suggesting product change based on what the market requires.
Political parties are no different to brands on the market. Parties are associated with what they promise the people and what they deliver. Overtime people become loyal to political parties and associate themselves with what they stand for. However, societies change and the dynamics change as well. As such, political parties have to re-invent themselves to cater for the ever-changing environment in order to continue to be attractive and relevant. Failure to do so means they become extinct or people migrate to other parties that promise better.
Do political parties in Zimbabwe view themselves as brands and what do they want to be associated with? Are the products packaged by the parties delivered in a manner that builds loyalty? Are political parties appointing experts that can represent the brand on the market? What activities are political parties involved with that shapes perceptions about that party. Yes perception in marketing is a very important aspect. One can never force a brand on people or use coercive approaches to get loyalty. In the same manner, political parties can never coerce people for support or loyalty. One can get the support and get a term in the office but, after 5 years when people should be allowed to freely evaluate and assess the performance of the products and make a decision.
Using violent means to promote brands is expensive and unsustainable and worse still is not appealing. Violence breeds resentment about the brand and the more a brand is associated by things like destruction of property, rape, assaults, corruption, murders and many other ills, the more the agents soil the brand and may lead to brand extinction. Equally, a brand that does not deliver on its promises, or makes promises it cannot keep, may lose the loyalty of its customers.