How big a role does political party branding play in winning votes?

The African National Congress (ANC) has convinced the majority of voters to give them another five-year term in office, with their share of the national ballot standing at over 57%.

How much of this can be attributed to the party's election campaign?

As South Africans wait for the official announcement of the final results scheduled for Saturday evening, Africa Melane chats to branding and advertising expert, Andy Rice.

Read: Final election results to be announced tonight

He says the ANC faced a major challenge because it wants to be all things to all people, which meant it couldn't be too focused on specific issues in its messaging, putting the spotlight on its president instead.

They fell back to a large extent on more of a presidential style, more of an American style, by positioning Cyril Ramaphosa as the face of all of the issues of the ANC... rather than trying to tackle all of the many issues that appeal to different sections of the ANC support base.

Andy Rice, Branding and advertising expert

Rice points out that any brand has to tick two components to be successful - the functional, performance-related component and another that is more emotional.

He says the ANC has supporters who, despite the party's delivery failures, are unable to turn their back on a movement that gave them freedom 25 years ago.

It's almost as though some are voting for the ANC despite their performance.

Andy Rice, Branding and advertising expert

(They're) looking at Cyril (Ramaphosa) as the missing link and saying ok, so the functional side of the brand has been very weak in the past, but maybe with this new hand on the helm we can see the functional performance, the delivery, match the emotional reward.

Andy Rice, Branding and advertising expert

Rice says the weak spot of the campaign run by the Democratic Alliance (DA) was the focus on the opposition's failings rather than the party's own solutions to problems.

This was the criticism levelled at them from early on in their campaign right through to election day and I'm quite surprised that they never really grasped that nettle and said, lets tell you what we're going to do for the country.

Andy Rice, Branding and advertising expert

The particular in-built difficulty the DA faced says Rice, is that it's a brand in transition, moving away from its traditional liberal support base and and into the townships.

He believes the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) had the strongest branding strategy, with the benefit of a well-defined audience to receive a simple, clear message focused on land and jobs.

For more on branding for election success, listen below:


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