How to bridge the great Brexit brand divide?

 
Vince Kerrigan
HP Workers March To Save Factory
Can you guess which side of the Brexit divide HP sauce fell into? (Source: Getty)

A YouGov survey has found a cultural divide at the heart of British society and it’s evident in the way we shop and, in particular, the brands we choose.

The research lists the top 10 brands for Leave voters versus the top 10 brands for Remain voters and reveals that the former tend to choose branded products that are ‘traditional, straightforward, simple, down-to-earth, good value and friendly’, whereas the latter prefer those that are ‘progressive, up-to-date, visionary, innovative, socially responsible and intelligent’. Only a handful of brands were equally popular among both groups.

Should brand owners be aiming to bridge the great brand divide in order to appeal to both groups of consumers?

Read more: What does Brexit mean for the advertising industry?

Brand owners shouldn’t be too concerned about this cultural divide – differences of this kind are nothing new and it is not unusual for brands to be multi-faceted in terms of their appeal to different target groups.

Often there are ‘heritage’ strands that are part of the brand story but an innovative approach to brand communications, based on a multi-channel approach, can ensure it appeals to a wider audience.

Top 10 brands: Leave voters Top 10 brands: Remain voters
HP Sauce BBC.co.uk
Bisto BBC iPlayer
ITV News Instagram
The Health Lottery London Underground
Birds Eye Spotify
Iceland Airbnb
Sky News LinkedIn
Cathedral City Virgin Trains
PG Tips Twitter
Richmond sausages Easyjet

Brand owners would be foolish to disregard this study completely, however. They should take the opportunity to assess which side of the Brexit agenda their brand is more likely to appeal to and consider whether this matches their core customer. If not, they could adapt their communications to suit.

A brand that emphasises its ‘Britishness’ for example, is more likely to appeal to the Leave voter. However, it could strengthen its appeal to younger, cosmopolitan consumers by conducting research and experimenting with new brand communications strategies.

Nintendo’s recent launch of Pokémon Go has demonstrated how a novel marketing initiative can completely reinvigorate a somewhat ageing brand. There is no reason why other brands can’t do likewise.

Read more: Marketing in the age of Instagram

As they seek to bridge the cultural divide and strengthen their brand appeal, brands should avoid overreacting to this research. The EU referendum was just an ‘event’ – a moment in time – and cultural preferences are shifting all the time. As long as brand owners understand who their customers are and what they want, they will continue to give them what they want.

Overall, brands should be consistently auditing their brand messages to ensure they are appealing to a wide range of target audience groups – regardless of which way they voted.

City A.M.'s opinion pages are a place for thought-provoking views and debate. These views are not necessarily shared by City A.M.

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