Boris: Can We Trust a Brand Built on Brexit, Buses, Buffoonery and Balls-Ups?
Fair play to Brand Boris, he has certainly made a strong start to his premiership. He has promised Brexit and is waving fistfuls of cash like a yuppie in a wine bar - I suspect - in a clear attempt to soften the almost inevitable ‘no deal’ outcome.
But is he the kind of brand we need?
We all know there are some key criteria upon which strong brands are built. They need to be desirable, so that people aspire to be associated with them - box ticked for 51.9% of the population who voted Brexit. They need to have a personality; I don’t think anyone can suggest Boris is devoid of that. They need to have impact in order to differentiate from the competition. And although there is a question mark over whether there is any credible competition, you can’t accuse him of being vanilla.
Above all, brands need to have a single-minded proposition – one that is simple and understandable. Certainly £350m per week back into our NHS was single minded, simple and understandable. But there’s the key challenge with Brand Boris. That promise was neither accurate nor transparent. And to be successful, brands need to be credible.
I’m old enough to remember when we all took seriously the commitment to deliver communications that are legal, decent, honest and truthful. Is Brand Boris credible? He does appear to treat candour with the same disdain he treats the EU, or 10-year-old rugby players for that matter.
What does this mean for the creative industries? Well, he is creative, but is he industrious? Creativity on its own will not win the day – it needs to be backed up with purpose and endeavour – otherwise it’s just another nice idea that doesn’t go anywhere. Great creative wins the hearts and minds in equal measure and I just don’t know that the intellectual argument from Brand Boris is strong enough.
I think he is telling some of us what we want to hear. But the final element of any successful brand is a commitment to ensure that the customer experience is consistent, positive and memorable. It will be a memorable experience with Boris that’s for sure. And right now, for many, it is positive. But will it be consistent? I have my doubts. And for any client to continue to want to invest in marketing, they need to know that there is going to be some stability in the macro environment, otherwise, that cash will disappear faster than a red bus.
If Brand Boris delivers, I want to win the client who sells bright blue ‘Make Britain Great Again’ baseball caps. Sadly, I suspect he will leave us all dangling on a zip wire.
Paul Williamson is MD of Realia Marketing