EARRINGS, leather jackets, bags, car stickers, berets, takkies and banners. These are just some of the tools that political parties use to keep their brands at the forefront of voters’ minds as the race to the general election in May hots up.
While most parties still rely on the traditional posters and billboards printed in different languages to get their message across to voters, some have gone a step further with branded cars and clothing and other merchandise as they nail their colours to the mast.
At the weekend the ANC encouraged its members, professionals and business people to brand their vehicles as the party attempts to push its emblem to every corner of the province.
ANC regional secretary Zandisile Qupe said their car stickers were produced in East London and cost R30 a sticker. “They are available from all regional offices.”
He said they had different merchandise to keep their brand active, which included All Star sneakers, shoes, overalls, berets, golf shirts and wrap-around cloths with the faces of President Jacob Zuma and Nelson Mandela.
Known for their red berets, Julius Malema’s Economic Freedom Fighters are going all out to paint the town red with merchandise, including caps and stickers, which cost between R50 to R200 per item.
EFF’s election coordinator, Sabelo Xhotyeni, said they used posters and stickers to push their brand.
Meanwhile with its trademark blue, the DA has branded car flags, button badge earrings, lip balms, banners and its own version of the berets costing R50.
COPE on the other hand has stuck to the traditional billboards and posters to do the job.
COPE provincial head of elections Bongani Bara said the party’s branding was all done nationally and their posters were available from the East London offices in the Eastern Cape as well as regionally.
Eastern Cape DA leader Athol Trollip said they relied on all kinds of branding to market their party.
“We have rosettes, doeks, beaded shoulder bags for women, pens, tracksuits, golf shirts and lots of other things to push the DA brand, as well as the posters.”
Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University senior branding manager and part-time marketing lecturer Vuyo Bongela said branding was about the visual and emotive elements. She said parties had to be consistent to make sure their brands were easily recognisable.
“The ANC capitalises on brand recognition and on the fact that they have been around for a long time. They sometimes only use their colours on certain items.
“The DA is still building its brand, as their logo was launched a couple of years ago and therefore they use the blue on everything to make sure there is no confusion.”
Bongela said while the EFF brand was out there, it could easily be confused with Cosatu which had been around longer and also used red.
“Because COPE used the same colours as the ANC for their branding, they are harder to recognise.”
She said party promotional material was about communicating the ethos of an organisation.The use of clothing and other insignia by the DA, ANC and EFF was effective because they appealed to the visual aspect of brand recognition.
“In building brand awareness, visual identity is key. Your colours need to be consistent, your font needs to be the same, where you position your logo needs to be at the same spot all or most of the time, according to what you produce.”
Bongela said posters served as a reminder about the political party; they were not a tool of persuasion.
“It would take more than a poster on a street lamp post to convince someone to vote, so politicians go around the country electioneering, supporting their posters, TV and radio campaigns.”
She said new parties with less recognisable brands like Agang SA would have to use a lot of resources to build their images in the electorate’s minds. – Thulani Gqirana