Bob Katter is widely cast as a hero for working class Australians. He has been a political figure for most of his life, championing farming and a lot of issues driven by the minority.
The launch of the Australia Party on 3rd of June 2011 saw Mr. Katter take his political reputation one step further, offering an alternative to the political party landscape in Australian Democracy.
To quote the Katter Australia Party website, they stand for ‘freedom for Australian’s who join their way of life and personal freedoms, the protection of Australian jobs and industries,’ and, ‘to do the right thing by Australians.’
The three paragraphs above sound romantic and idealist don’t they? The Australia Party, on paper, should evoke a sense of Australian pride and talk to the National Identity of Australia. Yet, it is becoming increasingly clear through the media that the Australia Party does none of these things. Bob appeared on Channel 10’s The Project on the 24th January, 2013, watch the link below to see how it went down.
So, if all the information that the Katter Australia Party website and other sources are speaking of equality, freedom and rights for all Australian’s, why do the majority of Australians see the exact opposite of that?
For entrepreneurs and start-ups, Bob Katter and the Australia Party are a very clear representation of what happens when branding goes unbelievably wrong.
A brand is something that people invest in. A brand is something that differentiates one product from another. It is a personal connection with the consumer that encourages a commitment. The role of branding is to take something that is intangible, and make it tangible in the eyes of the consumer, to make a product or service resinate within their daily lives for one purpose or another.
The science behind a brand is broken down into four things; attributes, benefits, values and voice. For a start-up, you need to assess these things and how they apply to your Marketing Plan.
Attributes – this is all about the adjectives that describe the experience of your product. For example, Mercedes Benz, their attributes could be Expensive, Fast, European Design, Economy of Fuel and so on.
Benefits – customers don’t buy attributes, they buy benefits. These must be functional and emotional. Describe how your product or service enhances the lifestyle of your consumer. The benefits of purchasing a Mercedes Benz may include, Success, Importance, Security, Safety, or Quality.
Values – no more than 5 adjectives that describe the position and feeling of your business. These are, in my option, the most important exercise of branding. Mercedes Benz may have the values of Prestige, Luxury, The Best, Perfection or Responsibility.
Voice – the brand voice is how you execute the points listed above. It is all about language and presentation through all the communication you make both externally and internally in your business.
So, back to Bob Katter.
His brand, on paper, for all accounts is pretty airtight. All accounted for except his brand voice. He is a poor communicator, and because of this he has significantly damaged the brand, and confused the publics perception and understanding of the Australia Party. While in line for my coffee this morning, I asked the people waiting around me their thoughts on the Australia Party, and most were too crude to include in this article!
He created this disillusion by talking about different issues, without maintaining his brand values and brand voice in the conversation. For example and most notably in the media, one of the issues the Australia Party focuses on is the suicide rate amongst rural farmers. While a devastating issue that deserves attention, when Bob is questioned on the larger number of suicides among the young homosexual and lesbian population he is dismissive, rude and belligerent, all three adjectives, operating outside his brand values. When he was questioned in The Project’s interview about statements made by his candidature he continued with the same responses.
It can be said, that a single party can’t be active across all policy platforms, however each issue outside their core portfolio must be addressed with the same thought, value and respect of the issues they do actively promote and stand for. While suicide amongst the gay community isn’t an issue the Australia Party includes in their agenda, does that make it any less an issue?
So, what’s the lesson? To know your brand and protect your brand. Branding is a crucial investment for any start-up or entrepreneur. You should always be asking yourself, ‘is it on brand?’ You need to constantly check your brand as your business grows and develops, and make sure that any action you make in your business reflects your brand and doesn’t detract from it. The connection you have with your consumers should be your primary focus. You should want them to know what your attributes are, your benefits and your values. Do this, and you will ensure the longevity of your business and a firm client base for years to come.