Most political campaigns are a form of combat. Particularly, in my home state of Texas. A certain way you win is by killing the other guy. There are big risks however with this as the core political strategy.
There ways to win without having to have the candidate brand appear to be mean spirited. People usually don’t like people like that. It can help when a candidate has a positive, singular, differentiating brand platform that can become a mantra and from which all messages flow.
Try change for example. Very singular. Easy to understand. Easy to hook other messaging to. It worked for these and one other reason. It differentiated the candidate from the other guy by implying that that other guy is like the guy in office and we want to change from that.
It’s morning in America. Sunny optimism, not that malaise-y thing. It wasn’t the chant, but it was the platform and the candidate exuded it. Our guy believes in the future and in you. Their guy has handed you high gas prices and says life isn’t a rose garden.
None of this means that there isn’t a place for what most call “going negative”. Here’s the trick. Get someone else to do that while our candidate stays above it and talks about things that resonate more emotionally.
I am not a scholar on political campaigns, but in some ways, they are exactly like branding in the world of commerce. Find a platform that is relevant to your core target, say it in a way that motivates the undecideds, have a singular voice for it, communicate it early and often (that means 24/7), don’t be afraid to go door-to-door and never let a charge about your brand go unanswered. Oh, and having a big budget helps.