I keep banging on about the fact that there’s a fairly obvious programme in place by the Labour Party to steal our natural positions, both philosophically and in policy (see my article on LDV or my recent blog post). Their latest moves to ‘own’ the term progressive are another case in point.
However, as a branding expert (and a Lib Dem) I do find the news that Ed Miliband is considering rebranding the party he leads as ‘The Progressive Labour Party’ pretty funny – and wrongheaded.
There are essentially three reasons why an organisation rebrands:
- Costs savings through economies of scale in bringing multiple brands under one banner (not the case here)
- A new brand required because of the merger of two or more existing organizations (hey, we know a bit about that, don’t we).
- A failing brand needing to disassociate itself with the past and get consumers to re-evaluate it. Now with Labour, we know it’s not route one or two – so that leaves us with route three. And Labour’s got form here – and quite successful form as well.
Labour first started to rebrand in the run up to the 1987 general election (when the Red Rose first appeared), but they still couldn’t shake off the stigma of the past – let’s not forget there were people rioting on the streets of London in 1990 against Tory policy, 2 years later they still won an election (food for thought and another post there I think).
They needed both to get people to re-evaluate the party and dissociate themselves from the past – and adding ‘New’ to their name got people to do just that. ‘We’re now New Labour, that other lot were Old Labour’.
And, in a branding sense, it worked.
The reason it works is that the added adjective positions the old form of the party in a particular way.
So now calling the party ‘Progressive’ would imply that the old party was the opposite, i.e. Regressive. And given the widening gap between the richest and poorest over the last 13 years, that makes perfect sense…
It’s probably not quite what Ed had in mind though. The fact that he is rebranding at all suggests he thinks he’s got problems getting people to listen to their message.
Anyway, I thought we could probably all help think of appropriate adjectives they’d need to find opposites to if they really want to remove the stain of their current reputation. I’ll start shall I? Spendthrift? Incompetent? Imprudent? Come on folks, lets e-mail Ed with our suggestions. After all, he does think we see Labour as a ‘vehicle for hope’.