Leni Robredo, the candidate, just lost the 2022 Philippine Presidential elections held last May 9, 2022, and yet despite this loss, ‘Leni Robredo’, the brand, continues to inspire millions of Filipinos, especially the youth.
The classical definition of a brand which I teach in the course ‘The Brand Architecture‘ is taken from brand guru Al Ries who states that ‘a brand is a singular idea or concept that you own inside the mind of a prospect.’
While ‘Leni Robredo’ is technically not a registered brand name, the name undoubtedly occupies a clear and distinct concept in the minds of over fifteen million Filipinos who voted for her in the the last elections – that is: an honest, upright, effective and inspiring public servant.
These attributes sound like the basic expectations of citizens from its elected leaders, however, it’s a ‘brand positioning‘ that’s quite rare these days, especially in the midst of today’s corrupt and jumbled world of Philippine politics.
While she lost the general vote, there is one specific market segment where she is the clear winner – that is, amongst the young and idealistic university students.
Survey after survey conducted by one of the the leading pollsters in the country, she consistently trailed behind the eventual winner. However, in most, if not all university-based surveys, she trounced all her competitors by a mile. Her brand has clearly captured the imagination of students and she has become an inspirational rallying point for these young Filipinos despite losing the elections.
The size of this segment was not large enough to carry her through with a Presidential victory last May, however, this segment of the population represents the country’s future and therefore provides a significant base for Robredo to leverage on in order to further advance the ideals and aspirations that ‘Leni Robredo’ the brand represents. Even in the absence of any official governmental platform, like the Office of the Vice President which she is scheduled to vacate by June 30, 2022, the brand has gained enough influence and stature that will remain a force to reckon with in the national scene in the years and decades to come. After all, today’s university students are tomorrow’s leaders, both in the private and public sectors.
In the course ‘The Brand Architecture‘, in the second module, I take my students through the three major phases in building a profitable brand for the long-term. The first two phases include ‘Brand Strategy’ and ‘Brand Identity’. The combination of these two phases provide the foundation upon which all brand marketing initiatives are prioritized, designed and executed. “Brand Marketing” is the third and final phase in the overall brand architecture framework.
In the case of the brand ‘Leni Robredo’, its ‘brand strategy’ and ‘brand identity’ remained focused and consistent all throughout her professional life (even before becoming an elected official), culminating with an impeccable six years in the Office of the Vice President, which enabled her to occupy that distinct positioning in the minds of her voters.
Her brand of leadership, which was cultivated over decades of private and public service primarily directed towards the poor and marginalized sectors (which Robredo referred to as ‘laylayan‘, i.e the fringes of society during her 2016 Vice Presidential run), has truly become a source of inspiration, especially amongst the youth.
The 8th Habit
What is the 8th habit?
According to Stephen R. Covey, the best-selling author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, the eighth habit is this:
“Find your voice, and inspire others to find theirs“The 8th Habit
“Voice” is Covey’s language for “unique personal significance.”
According to Covey, those who inspire others to find their own voice are the leaders needed now and for the future.
From the onset of the presidential campaign of Leni Robredo, the eighth habit was front and centre for all the world to see. It was a campaign marked by volunteerism from the get-go.
In an interview with Rappler, lawyer Emil Marañon said, “This election is really unique and, to a certain extent, groundbreaking, because for the first time we have seen more and more private individuals or citizens participating directly in campaigns. We have not seen this extent in the past elections.”
Before we talk more about Leni Robredo, let’s review what makes a brand ‘inspirational‘.
In the blog on Cotopaxi®, I wrote that “(Cotopaxi®’s) culture and practice of giving back is the very core and DNA of the business model of the brand from its inception. The brand was deliberately created to do good.” The brand’s battlecry itself clearly expresses its unique brand positioning: “Gear For Good“.
“Our promise is to make durable gear in the most ethically sustainable way possible and to use our influence to develop and uplift communities. In short, make products that last — and have a lasting impact.”
In the case of VEJA®, as stated in its own website:
“Since 2005, VEJA has been creating sneakers in a different way, mixing social projects, economic justice, and ecological materials.“
As I mentioned in that blog: “(VEJA® is) the world’s first-ever sneaker brand that uses fabric that is made entirely of recycled plastic bottles (among other sustainability innovations).” And this is one of the reasons why the brand is able to command premium pricing for its sneakers vis-a-vis the leading global sneaker brands in the world.
These are just two examples of a growing number of inspirational brands in the market today.
In 2020, Wunderman Thomson, one of the leading international advertising agencies, launched “Inspire Score“.
According to Wunderman, “Inspire is Wunderman Thompson’s proprietary global platform that explores what makes brands inspiring and what inspires consumers. The ‘Inspire Score: Top 100’ was first launched in 2020 as part of Wunderman Thompson’s global brand study, Inspiring Growth, the world’s largest ongoing study into inspiration, which explores why brands need to be inspirational, how inspiration drives growth and what brands can do to inspire their customers.”
Last year, in 2021, Wunderman Thompson released its list of the Top 100 Most Inspiring Brands in the World which includes the most recognizable household brands in a variety of industries but notably dominated by internet and technology brands. Topping the list is Google®, immediately followed by Apple® and Samsung®.
According to the study of Wunderman Thompson: “Based on research into inspiration in the field of motivational psychology, we determined that inspirational brands score highly on three factors:
Elevating. We feel good when we think and act in an altruistic way. Elevating brands demonstrate a positive impact on society and a caring approach to their own customers. This in turn creates a sense that choosing them would help us be the sort of person we aspire to be. It’s measured in our dataset by looking at scores for ‘cares for its customers’, ‘socially responsible’ and ‘helpful’.
Magnetic. This talks to the social power of a brand in making us feel like we are making a popular, exciting choice. We derive the Magnetic score by using the scores for ‘leader’, ‘best brand’, ‘would recommend to a friend’ and ‘gaining in popularity’.
Motivating. Motivating says that the brand offers something different that will help you accomplish your goals. The metrics that make up Motivating are ‘good value’, ‘high performance’, ‘simple’ and ‘distinctive’.
The study showed that a brands inspiration score, based on how strong it is across those three factors, is highly predictive of its ability to drive growth in market share and command a price premium.”
What the Brand ‘Leni Robredo’ Inspired and Inspires
Looking at the three factors highlighted in the Wunderman Thompson study, namely ‘Elevating‘, ‘Magnetic‘ and ‘Motivating‘, it’s easy to see how Leni Robredo was able to inspire so many volunteers to spring into action the moment she announced her candidacy.
For my own part, I was inspired to work with a small group of friends to create a volunteer group called #Kami Si Leni. I personally built the #Kami Si Leni website in a matter of a few hours and we launched the #Kami Si Leni Facebook community which attracted over 1,600 members. We also developed and launched two Leni Info Cards, both in Tagalog and Bisaya, which we used during one-on-one campaigning in malls, supermarkets, gas stations, etc. and were also widely printed and distributed by other volunteer groups. I also joined several rallies around Metro Manila and even participated in a house-to-house campaign during Labor Day Sunday.
And yet, that’s just me and a few others.
Hundreds of thousands of other volunteers ended up doing even more than my own personal campaign efforts. Like me, I would presume that majority, if not all, of these volunteers were never paid to do any of these, and also were never asked by the central campaign to exert any of these efforts. All these were on our own volition, driven by an ideal that was inspired by Leni Robredo’s leadership.
In her May 4 article in Rappler entitled ‘The Pink Wave: Robredo’s volunteer movement defies traditional campaigns‘, Michelle Abad wrote:
“Pink baked goods, artwork, musicians writing songs for free, actors breaking into a song on the streets, hikers brandishing tarpaulins on mountain peaks, supporters walking and waiting for hours under the sun, and volunteers daring to speak face-to-face to voters hard set on a candidate that differs from their own. These are glimpses of what the campaign of presidential candidate Vice President Leni Robredo and running mate Senator Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan looks like. Students are unfazed by school deadlines, workers are taking leaves to go house-to-house, and farmers are marching across the country in a bid to convince Filipinos to choose the tandem as their next leaders.”
Volunteers were quite simply inspired to find our voice because of the clear and inspiring ‘voice‘ of Leni Robredo.
This is the precise essence of Covey’s 8th Habit.
Angat Buhay NGO is Born
It is therefore not surprising that Leni Robredo, in her Thanksgiving Rally with her supporters held in the Ateneo De Manila University campus in Quezon City last May 13, right after the election results became apparent, announced the upcoming launch on July 1, 2022 of the Angat Buhay NGO which she will lead.
“Unang araw ng Hulyo, ilulunsad ang Angat Buhay NGO,” Robredo said. “Bubuuin ang pinakamalawak na volunteer center sa kasaysayan ng bansa. Tuloy tayo sa pagtungo sa mga nasa laylayan at sa pag-ambagan para umangat sila“”
(First day of July, the Angat Buhay NGO will be launched. The widest volunteer center in the history of the country will be formed. We continue to serve those who are in the margins and contribute in their uplifting.)
She mentioned that the group’s formation is based off volunteer efforts that happened throughout her vice presidency, saying “Nagawa natin ito kahit maliit lang ang pondo at makinarya sa taggapan ng pangalawang pangulo (We were able to do this despite the limited funds and machinery in the Office of the Vice President).”
Wunderman Thompson Global CEO Mel Edwards was quoted as saying: “Our research proves a strong correlation between inspiration and brand growth.” This quote clearly suggests why, despite not winning the presidency, ‘Leni Robredo’ the brand could actually be poised for so much more growth and possibilities in the coming years and decades because of how the brand has become a compelling inspiration for so many to go beyond ourselves and do good for others.
“I have no plans of abandoning what I have done all my life. My work to uplift the masses will continue. I am calling you to join me in this task. Our country needs your help and participation in fighting for justice, the rights of every Filipino and our dignity as a people.”Leni Robredo, Press Conference, May 10, 2022
This brilliant brand leaves us with two key lessons:
First, brands, through the 8th habit, have the power to inspire which could galvanize its audience to go beyond themselves and pay things forward for the good of others.
And second, all brands have the capacity and the opportunity to inspire, which starts with a clear brand positioning and purpose and a consistent and cohesive brand architecture that supports this positioning.
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