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When Branding and Politics meet…

Understanding the importance of brand management within a political campaign and what key strategies are critical to WIN!

(Excerpt from the full interview and story compiled by student fellows, Alexis Proctor (reporter) and Grayson Marshall (videographer) with Camille D. Jamerson, CEO of CDJ & Associates during a recent client’s State Senate Campaign)

CDJ & Associates, led by crisis manager and branding guru Camille Jamerson, is a boutique business management consulting firm that specializes in PR/Media, Communications & Branding Strategies for CEO’s, Public figures, Political candidates & Entrepreneurs.

Camille’s firm has enjoyed numerous successes such a recognition for clients on exclusive stages and platforms, political campaign wins and contracts that catapult their brand. CDJA uses a strategic navigation system that works for corporate clients, public figures, authors, artists and leaders. Recently adding political figures to the repertoire, The CDJ Navigation System balanced branding, politics, PR and media in a recent primary election. Camille rode this potential minefield of dynamics like a surfer on a major wave.

The end result:

1. A redefining and new authoritative portrayal of her client’s image.

2. A complex winning strategy to communicate that image through messaging, social media, field, ground campaign, storytelling, & video.

3. A brand style with tag lines and language that infiltrated every part of the campaign and the candidate.

4. A major senate victory for both a partial and full term over 10 other candidates.

5. An influx of new potential clients ready to lean on her expertise.

Alexis P: Camille, you are affectionately known as the “Olivia Pope” of the Midwest. Have you had to deal with any major scandals with any of your clients?

CDJ: YES & NO. If you mean to the degree that you saw on the TV show Scandal, absolutely not. But scandals, trouble, issues are all relative. What isn’t a big deal to one, could be a major issue for another. I have had my share of late night calls and early morning fix-it strategy sessions. But it’s a part of the job. All my clients are not political, so issues with them may not have the same impact, but it affects THEM just as deeply. Being sensitive to that and navigating them through the storm safely and hopefully unscathed is part of my job.

Alexis P: Speaking of “navigating” you told me offline that you have navigation system for consulting? Tell me about that.

CDJ: The system is simply the method I use to 1. Settle what the client really wants. 2. Discern what obstacles are in the way. 3. Move or redirect the obstacle. 4. Execute the plan. 5. Create and publish the narrative to our advantage. Now HOW we do that and the unique techniques and hacks we use to accomplish it, is a little more complex. But branding (and protecting the brand at all costs) plays a MAJOR role in that. We call it protecting the asset. I talk about that more in a recent post.

Alexis P: Great segue into the branding piece of this discussion. Steve Penhollow states that “A turning point of sorts in political branding using logos came in 2008 with Barack Obama’s first presidential campaign.” Do you agree with that and what do you think is the role of branding in the current political landscape?

CDJ: I totally agree with Steve on that point. I also think it’s the first time in recent history that political campaigns have taken the power of a brand seriously. With the Obama campaign, it’s portrayal of hope through his logo, tagline, colors, vernacular, grassroots fundraising, accessibility and technology all played a part in building a viable movement that people wanted to belong to. Campaigns have been mimicking that strategy ever since. Corporate America (where I come from) has been using this strategy for decades! It’s what a brand does. It should evoke a feeling, a passion or a desire to be a part of what has been created.

Alexis P: Before we end this part of the interview, I know that elections are basically within the power of the voters, but what would you say are the top 5 things you must have to win a political election?

CDJ: The first thing you must have, is a solid candidate. The client I just wrapped up with was simply a GOOD guy. Obama was a good guy. People that are good at their core with no major skeletons or drama are much easier to brand authentically. Secondly, you need a campaign manager that understands the polls, strategy, budgeting, volunteers, campaign technology and knows the ropes of the voting system. I have played dual roles before as the political strategist and manager, but it works best when the roles are separate. Third, would be to obtain a political branding & communications specialist.

People in my role that are brought on early can help circumvent early “oops” in communication with a candidate’s brand. The sooner we help define what the brand is and begin to promote it, the sooner brand recognition and platform development benefits can be realized. Fourth, I would say starting your fundraising as early as possible is critical. You want to get a jump on donors and start building a budget. Last, but not least would be build your inner circle. It’s not likely that you will have the mental and emotional fortitude to win without people that you trust and can be vulnerable with in your corner. I’ve said it before, “some of the more devastating things I see, wouldn’t happen if they simply had a real friend or a mirror.”


A “team effort” is an understatement. But striking the right balance between all these key points will ensure that you are at the very least set up to run a top-notch campaign. CDJ & Associates can help political candidates or advocacy groups build solid winning campaigns!

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