If there’s one thing we can learn from Boris Johnson, branding still works

Branding

It’s almost as though we didn’t have enough to get hot and bothered about last week with the soaring temperatures alone. Face-melting rhetoric surrounding the appointment of our new Prime Minister has been vitriolic, impassioned to the point of fury and burning with rage on all sides of the electorate. Even the rain didn’t cool us off. 

But it also teaches us an important lesson about branding. 

While public distrust towards anything remotely resembling a corporate entity soars, Boris Johnson moving into Number 10 proves branding is still alive, well, and persuasive as ever. A clear sign of the times, we are looking at an unelected leader— aside from around 2% of Britons— whose track record makes for worrying reading. 

And that’s precisely the point. If BoJo was a brand, he’d be up there with the most marketing-astute on the planet. Let’s bring out the exhibits. 

Smoking Gun PR has written extensively on, and practiced consistently, the importance of transparency. In the world of Johnsonism, we know he’s a liar— from made up articles to illicit affairs. But we know he’s a liar. We know he’s guilty of infidelity. We know he’s prone to what some call gaffes and others national embarrassments. We know he uses the language of colonialism and seems to have low respect for many other cultures. 

He has been consistent in creating a 360-degree character. And we know that character. 

Boris Johnson’s demeanour— bowling about the place, winching himself in, kippers waving— is the polar opposite to Theresa May. Nobody is accusing him of dancing robotically or having an On/Off switch for crocodile tears. Like our hometown of Manchester, he does things differently. He’s the challenger brand, offering something the old guard don’t. Which brings me to a third observation. 

In 2019 disruption has become par for the course in many sectors. The most exciting business prospects are those revolutionising their market, turning things on head and changing expectations.

As a staunch pro-Leave politician, once he made his mind up, and in countless other situations, Mr. Johnson defines disruption. A figure quite unlike any other to have taken the mantle of First Among Equals, he ushers in a new era of UK politics. Tagline: ‘Anything could happen now’. 

It doesn’t matter if you agree or disagree with his policies, positioning or voting record. Your opinion on him as person or professional is irrelevant. The fact he bolted from the starting blocks so far ahead of any rivals, jogging over the finish line, is a result of his clear, recognisable and consistent brand. Even if that consistency often comes in the form of inconsistencies.

As one pundit put it, you can rely on not being able to rely on him . In an age of self and national doubt, humanity-wide fears we are speeding towards extinction of our own making in a gas-guzzling monster truck, it’s salesmanship at its finest.

 

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