Last week while working on a campaign for a client, some new research rolled in showing that only 53% of Britons know the name of their MP. This revelation spurned chatter in the office about the implications of this in terms of personal branding.
Are MPs also brands? And if so, does it matter that there's such low brand-recognition amongst the target audience (read: constituents)?
Some of these questions were answered following an interaction with an MP, whom I presented the findings to via Twitter.
Using Twitter I sent messages to a handful of MPs and PPCs who have active accounts. Many chose not to reply (perhaps an indicator that they're not doing a good job) but a few did. Most notably, Labour civil service minister Tom Watson replied:
This position was that in the long run, name recognition amongst his constituents is less important than advocating on their behalf. He stresses a communication budget.
However if his concerns are less to do with the people knowing who he is, it suggests his communication budget is for a one-way stream to people who don't really know who he is.
With general election on the horizon, one could think that name recognition would be most vital to anyone hoping to win a seat in parliament.
But, perhaps I'm off in my assessment. Perhaps MPs are impervious to the concepts of brands and personal branding. I can't say for sure. Nonetheless, it is troubling data and certainly raised some questions in the branding and marketing community.
My belief is that politicians are themselves brands. Brand recognition is hugely important. But what do you think?