Jeremy Corbyn is the name on everyone’s lips as the British General election approaches. Attracting as many haters as followers, Jeremy is strongly evoking people’s passionate side. Speculators predict that he’s set to perform the upset of a century and become Britains next prime minister. Buts what’s his secret? And what can us marketing professionals, business owners, and brand managers learn from his success so far?
Who is Jeremy Corbyn?
I avoid politics like the plague (especially British politics). I can never understand why politicians can’t work together for the nation’s benefit rather than needlessly battling each other chasing personal glory. But this Jeremy Corbyn character has entrapped my attention over the last week. And I admit, I’ve been bitten by the bug.
An innocent surf of Youtube led me to a video showing a Sky News attempt at smearing Jeremy Corbyn backfire. This peaked my curiosity. I clicked on it and couldn’t help leaving impressed by his dignified and clever handling of the situation. This encounter caught my attention and made me wonder why such hate exists against a man who appears so genuine and authentic.
A Human Leader
A little market research quickly educated me on why he instils mainstream British media with so much hate. On balance, his views are very anti-authoritarian disliking the elitism of the monarchy preferring a more egalitarian society. Consequently, this does not sit well with everyone.
Jeremy Corbyn is also a pacifist and supports negotiation to solve conflict rather than violence. This makes him a terrorist sympathiser to tabloids like the DailyMail. But despite media attacks, he never shirks from who he is and what he believes in. Placating people doesn’t interest him. On the whole, you instantly understand his brand as it dosen’t constantly change position in difficult circumstances.
He portrays himself as an ordinary man and avoids pruning himself with the finest clothes. This makes him relatable to general society. Businesses could learn a lot from this. If you’re a manager or business owner where employees receive minimum wage, donning the finest clothes doesn’t look good. Practice humility. Yes, public image is important for any brand. But contextual relevancy is more important. Fashion peacocking festers resentment making you appear elitist and highlights the employee wage gap.
The Public’s Attraction
Everyone in Marketing knows, one of the most powerful ways to build a niche brand is to make the product exclusive and hard to attain. Look at the success of Abercrombie, BMW, and Apple. We desire and appreciate what’s hard to get. Think of the salesman who tells you “Oh no, this item isn’t for you, it’s too expensive”. A simple marketing trick to make us want something more.
The Jeremy Corbyn brand has gone from rank outsider to favourite in many eyes for the British election thanks in part to media smear campaigns. The media tell the British public not to like or trust him. This makes many love him. The old dating cliche holds true – the more people are told they shouldn’t like him the more they do.
The same was seen in Trump’s shocking electoral success and in the Brexit vote. We covered a blog on the secrets to Trump’s victory a while back for anyone interested. The media tell people who to vote for through negativity and exaggeration of possible doomsday repercussions. Then, the public ignores the media and votes the other way. The economic crisis crippled the middle and lower class and many have taken their anger out on the media and political system. They’re desperate for change to readdress the economic balance which left them suffering the most. Enter Jeremy Corbyn.
Many brands and business owners should remember this. In the internet age, manipulation no longer works as a marketing tool. The truth can be found across the internet for anyone hungry for an impartial opinion. The best brands and businesses should practice authenticity, openness, and a customer-centric approach to marketing and business. Much like Jeremy Corbyn, they’ll win public opinion as the brand is driven by social good rather than a singular focus on profiteering.
Corbyn’s Brand Persona
We all have a public persona. Marketers call this your brand persona. Corporations construct a corporate persona and attempt to align all their marketing efforts to match this persona to maximise the public’s understanding and memorability of the brand.
However, some companies often fail to match their public persona which serves to disappoint customers whose expectations aren’t met. A company might claim to be cheap yet their prices are expensive. They proclaim to be innovative or offer the best service in town except fail to deliver. As a result, customers today are inherently mistrustful of corporations and brands. This is especially true with politicians who promise the world only to deliver a mere plastic replication.
The alluring thing about Jeremy Corbyn is that he’s so different and significantly this isn’t a pretence. He hasn’t cultivated a brand that cloaks his true personality. He’s comfortable in his own skin and open with the public enhancing his image as a person people can trust. His radiating confidence and ease in debates in contrast to Teresa May’s robotic and scripted appearance serve to back the belief that he doesn’t have anything to hide.
He answers questions rather than actively avoiding them. The British public seems to be particularly taken by his passion for office and enthusiasm for debate with Teresa May. The fact that she’s avoiding debating him only serves to enforce public perception that she doesn’t have his fight and is unwilling to stand by her beliefs. Brands and companies should equally adopt a passionate approach to their business driven by social good and open communication.
The Marketing Message
Jeremy Corbyn has found himself in the position of an underdog in this election. Like many underdogs, this is serving him well causing the opposition to underestimate him and fans to rally behind him. These circumstances also align him more with the general public appearing as one of them fighting for the establishment of social justice. This connection with ordinary and young people is striking amongst his support. He’s a Robin Hood figure who the authorities hate but everyday people love. As evidence, 200,000 young people joined the labour party in 2014/2015 solely to vote him in as their leader and drive change.
His plan for Britain focuses on the future. He aims to rebuild schools making education and young people a focal point. Appealing to the margins of society, he’s seeking to open employment opportunities for lower income households. Bridging racial gaps accruing in black and Muslim sectors of Britain is also a priority. Interviews with famous grime artists like JME on Youtube propagates him as a leader who cares about all of society. Corbyn wants to abolish college fees and open education to everyone from all backgrounds winning him many admirers in boroughs across Britain.
All of this creates a fanatical following for Jeremy Corbyn. Overall, the British public seems to either love or hate him. This encapsulates his brand as more memorable and strong. He seems to actively listen and respond to people in debates and interviews. In contrast, other politicians usually duck questions. Lessons for brands exist here. Listen to your customers and those you don’t agree with. This is a vital characteristic of leadership. You cannot drive change at an organisation if you refuse to listen to problems.
The British Election
Who knows what more swings are left on the campaign trail. All things considered, win or lose, Jeremy Corbyn is winning many admirers. His charisma has rebuilt a labour party that didn’t stand a chance approaching the election. Alltogether, his secret is no more than being himself and focusing on his strengths fusing connection with the general public. Any business or marketing professionals can learn from his story.
Simply promoting what’s good about the company, focus on the strengths, and put the public (potential customers) at the heart of your actions. Don’t be just another business. Be constantly striving to be a better one and reflect this in your action and marketing communication.