Canadian Journal of Political Science

Research Article

Brand New Party: Political Branding and the Conservative Party of Canada

Alex Marlanda1 c1 and Tom Flanagana2 c2

a1 Memorial University of Newfoundland

a2 University of Calgary

Abstract

Abstract. Little has been written about the use of branding by Canadian political parties. We draw on interviews with 30 party elites to document the branding of the Conservative party of Canada from 2003 to 2006. We disclose that preparations to re-brand the Canadian Alliance party were subsumed into the new party and that the colour of the maple leaf in the Conservative logo was a contentious topic because of its political symbolism. We conclude that partisans' attachment to colours and the use of negative advertising constitute important differences between the practice of branding in the political and business spheres.

Résumé. Fort peu d'écrits ont été consacrés au processus de développement d'images de marque (ou branding) par les partis politiques canadiens. Cet article présente des données tirées d'entrevues réalisées auprès de 30 dirigeants et stratèges du Parti conservateur du Canada sur cette question entre 2003 et 2006. Les entretiens révèlent que les préparatifs menant au repositionnement de l'image de l'Alliance canadienne ont mené à la création de la nouvelle formation et qu'un débat important sur l'arrimage chromatique de la feuille d'érable présente dans le nouveau logo conservateur a secoué le parti en raison de sa symbolique politique. En conclusion, nous posons que l'identité partisane liée à certaines couleurs et le recours à la publicité négative représentent des différences notables dans l'exercice de développement d'images de marque entre les sphères politiques et commerciales.

Correspondence

c1 Alex Marland, Department of Political Science, Memorial University of Newfoundland, St. John's, NL A1B 3X9, email: amarland@mun.ca

c2 Tom Flanagan, Department of Political Science, University of Calgary, 2500 University Drive NW, Calgary AB, T2N 1N4, email: tflanaga@ucalgary.ca

Footnotes

  Acknowledgments The authors wish to acknowledge the insightful feedback received from the three external reviewers on an earlier version of this article. We especially wish to thank the interview respondents; this research would not have been possible without their co-operation. Some interviews were possible due to Tom Flanagan's senior role in Canadian party politics. For research integrity purposes all interviews were administered and analyzed by Alex Marland, a non-partisan academic. Information concerning the identity of respondents and their comments, other than what appears in this article, was not disclosed to Dr. Flanagan.

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