Fake personal branding. Have we moved from real people to puppets?

No longer true blue, Aussie pollies are being shaped to ‘fit’ the party image and narrative.

The role of personal branding has been impacted significantly by the shift towards more populist politics.

In the past, political leaders like Whitlam, Hawke, Menzies and even Howard stood for something. They had a big vision for the country and whether you supported them or not, you knew who they were.

With the 24hr news cycle and constant polls, politicians are constantly being re-shaped to appeal fit the current narrative. The aim is to offend as few people as possible. Authenticity is no longer a consideration.

The personal image of our political leaders is being carefully crafted and influenced by power brokers within and outside the party.

An example of this occurred in the lead up to the most recent leadership spill. Influential people within and outside the party deliberately worked to position Malcolm Turnbull as elitist and not relating to the Aussie battler. Many of these influencers are now working hard to reposition Scott Morrison as everything Turnbull isn’t.

Hence, our latest Prime Minister, Scott Morrison or Scomo, is being rebranded as the ‘daggy dad’. The hard-nosed border enforcer is out. Scomo is now being repositioned as the everyday Dad who loves his family and kids.

The image creators are also amplifying his strong Christian family values. This is designed to appeal to the more conservative voters, who many in the Liberals feel they are losing or have lost support from to the far-right parties and independents.

This is all in backdrop of many Australians feeling disenfranchised with our political system. There seems to be a growing sentiment that power is being taken from the people and a high degree of cynicism to all politicians.

Ironically, more than ever, people are looking for authentic people who clearly stand for something and speak their mind.

Personal brand is all about being true to who you are. Representing a clear vision, having strong values and a genuine belief system. Being able to articulate what you stand for and why.

When it comes to Australian politicians, there aren’t many who have an authentic personal brand. Shorten and his Labor processors have also been shaped to appeal to as many in the pub as possible.

Even internationally, many of the leaders of major democracies are also largely shaped to fit the image.

Trump is perhaps a standout. Love him or hate him, Trump gets personal brand.

Trump is extremely polarising but that only makes him more appealing for his loyal followers. Rather than trying to please everyone, Trump has a reputation of saying what he thinks – and many Americans love him for that.

Perhaps it is time to stop crafting puppets.

While I don’t want a Trump or anything like him, it’s time we had some genuine politicians with real vision. A fearless leader that stands for something. A person with conviction who is not afraid to show who they really are and proudly shares what they believe in.

Some my above comments were referenced in a news.com.au article. Read the full story with other opinions on ‘the reinvention of Scott ‘ScoMo’ Morrison’ here.


Michael Hughes

Michael is Managing Partner and Strategy Director at Truly Deeply, a brand agency with 25 years’ experience working with brands to position them for growth. His deep expertise is in unlocking the strategic power of your brand to create a differentiated, compelling and authentic brand proposition that will engage all your audiences. Michael has extensive experience working across Australia and the Middle East working with leading Australian and International organisations across just about every sector.

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