The latest Angus-Reid poll has some startling results for all parties. It seems that if Justin Trudeau was leader of the Liberal Party of Canada, the party would be propelled from its current third place behind the NDP and Harper new Tories, into the first choice of the majority of respondents:
However, two possible leaders do generate momentum for the Liberals. With Marc Garneau as leader, Canada’s political scene becomes a three-way race, with the Conservatives (32%), the Liberals (28%) and the New Democrats (27%) separated by a few points. A Liberal Party led by Justin Trudeau would become the national frontrunner (40%), with substantial leads over the Conservatives (30%) and the NDP (21%).
At a stroke, the current free fall of the Harper Tories would be accelerated, and the resurgent NDP backed into third party status.
These are amazing results.
But what lies behind them?
The power of a powerful brand.
Political brands are important. Harper's Tories have a sharp-edged brand, while the Liberal Party has been wallowing in brandless territory for so long that many people have no clear idea what it stands for, other than not being the Tories or the NDP.
And the brands of the recent leaders of the party have also been fuzzy, partly because of the actions and pasts of the men themselves, and partly because the Tories helped make the images fuzzier than they would have been (think Martin dithering; Ignatieff out of touch and wooden; Dion wandering off on his own with new policies while the party meandered off in different directions).
What is the role of a political brand?
Try this summary:
This is all the more surprising, given that on the one hand, political parties and their key representatives presumably fulfil the main criteria of an impact-oriented brand as a firmly anchored, consistent perceptual image in the minds of voters. On the other hand, there are many indicators that political brands are of considerable significance for voting decisions. In essence, the importance of brands for voting decisions on the part of the consumers derives from their branding functions, such as orientation aid in the form of an “information chunk” or risk-reduction function in the sense of a confidence surrogate.
Wikipedia offers a shorter summary of what a brand is:
A brand is a "Name, term, design, symbol, or any other feature that identifies one seller's good or service as distinct from those of other sellers." Branding began as a way to tell one person's cattle from another by means of a hot iron stamp. A modern example of a brand is Coca Cola which belongs to the Coca-Cola Company...
The word "brand" is derived from the Old Norse brandr meaning "to burn." It refers to the practice of producers burning their mark (or brand) onto their products...
Brand is the personality that identifies a product, service or company (name, term, sign, symbol, or design, or combination of them) and how it relates to key constituencies: customers, staff, partners, investors etc...
A brand which is widely known in the marketplace acquires brand recognition. When brand recognition builds up to a point where a brand enjoys a critical mass of positive sentiment in the marketplace, it is said to have achieved brand franchise.
Justin Trudeau's Brand Franchise
The poll results should not be surprising if we think a bit about the 'brand franchise" of the Trudeau name.
When people think of Justin Trudeau, they are conscious of his father's brand at the same time. The two brands are interwoven in people's minds, in a very positive way.
Most Canadians know about Pierre Elliot Trudeau. He is a Canadian icon, both within the country, and internationally. His name evokes a time when Canadians were proud to be Canadian; when Canada stood for a positive force in the world, a leader on the world stage.
And the individual leading the country, PET, also had his own clear brand franchise: a strong person, secure within himself, able to hold his own against anyone anywhere, bright, abrasive yet a force for the good.
PET has been described as a philosopher king, and in many ways he was.
This is the brand franchise what Justin Trudeau benefits from.
And millions in Canada right now long for a franchise like that in their leader, after so many years of the mean-spirited franchise of Stephen Harper and his new Tories.
So it is no wonder that so many think that Justin Trudeau might deserve the chance to help Canada regain its pride, and resume a prominent role on the world stage.