Monday, March 27, 2017

Branding and the Power of Labels

Donald Trump is the master of creating pejorative labels that stigmatize his opponents, for instance Crooked Hillary, Crazy Bernie, Little Marco, Lyin' Ted and 'Low Energy' Jeb. 

The military creates labels that make lethal weapons sound more palatable such as peacekeeper missiles. The Affordable Care Act was carefully named to present its most important promised benefit, while the opposition relabeled it ObamaCare to give it a more negative connotation. Or consider the clean coal label. Some would say that is an oxymoron. 

Of course, public relations professionals are well acquainted with euphemisms, the substitutions of agreeable or inoffensive expressions for ones that may offend or suggest something unpleasant.

Whether used to make something sound better or worse, labeling is is a powerful tool in persuasive communication. 

If I wanted you to think less of a particular university, I might call it a nerd school or a party school or a backup school or a finishing school. Or consider how it would feel to you if someone were to label your high school a ghetto school.

Opposing political parties are constantly labeling their bills in the most positive light while relabeling their opponent's bills in the most negative light. 

Obviously, there are countless labels that can be applied to individuals to make others think less of them. Many of those labels are profane.

A well crafted label can create a strong emotional response, either positive or negative. Consider the power of labeling in positioning your brand or repositioning those of your competitors. 

For what it is worth, I am personally much more a fan of positive labeling than negative labeling for ethical reasons.

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