The Brand of Democracy

After 1989 the Romanian Revolution which led to the end of the communist era, in Romania, the hope and need of progress and human flourish was felt. Romanians had to learn all over again the way towards democracy and liberty. Romania had to cooperate with the other States, to reinforce the democratic values and the values of human rights, to fight against the terrorism and for the stabilization of the region, to develop the economy and to participate to the strategic process of the transformation of the army (the military strategic transformation of the Alliance). It had to be understood that Romania could flourish and prosper in the current international political, economic and cultural realities only if it would cooperate with the Western countries which had a long democratic tradition as well as a long experience in the field of cooperation between countries and nations. One point of view from which we could start our arguments is that: in order to attain the prosperity, progress and human flourish a former totalitarian country needs to base its ascendance on democracy, freedom and cooperation. A new wave of ideas was brought to the attention of the Romanian leaders after 2000 when some international specialists in the Country Branding proposed to Romania a Country Branding program. This program would have ensured a better international image and also would have proven internationally that progresses is and will be made towards the democracy and the western values but also from the economical point of view. The originality of the following arguments consists in approaching this theme from the image point of view: the brand of democracy and its relation to the prosperity, progress and human flourish.
Raymond Duncan Gastil in „The Comparative Survey on Freedom: Experiences and Suggestions” explains which are the measurable elements to obtain the degree of freedom and democracy in different countries. Two indicators allow the measurement of these values: the political rights and the civilian freedom. Thanks to Gastil’s studies we have a starting point in the analysis of the Brand of Democracy. It opens the way of the study between the brand mechanisms and those of the political democracy. But it is essential to talk about these two elements because the progress of the societies as they are today is due to these two elements: the democracy and the brand; and these factors lead to prosperity, progress and human flourish.

Raymond Duncan Gastil was preoccupied with the intuitive system which evaluated the levels of freedom and democracy, as they are described by the political rights and the civilian freedom in the tradition of the Western countries. The study was made on the period 1975-1989 for different countries, but the answers are still interesting as a guidance line of the future studies. According to Gastil the freedom has always been understood in comparison with the democracy. There are systems with limited freedom and systems which offer a lot of freedom in order to be democratic. „ The party system is inefficient and the lack of party discipline means that the majority of senators and representatives cannot be asked to answer in front of the electorate for the success or the failure of the successive governs. […] The poor societies which have two classes separated by a large difference have a weaker democratic performance.”
The political rights are concentrated around the designation/election of the representatives: free and correct elections, political campaign, and the distribution of power, more than one political party confronting themselves in the campaign, the negative votes, and the right to auto determination, decentralized power and consensus. Among the civilian liberties Gastil includes the freedom of the media and of the literature from censorship, public debate, the freedom to gather and to manifest, the freedom of the political organizations, the rule of law, the free state, the freedom of economic activities, the freedom of the religious institutions, the private organizations, the personal freedom (property, travel, family, marriage), the freedom of socio-economic inequalities and the freedom against the political indifference and the corruption. These elements are opposed to the systems without popular process as the inherited monarchies and the totalitarian regimes as the communist one as it happened in Romania till 1989. The choice of designating a political representative and the choice in general is a factor which leads to prosperity, progress and human flourish. Gastil insists on the political elections in order to point out their role in the constitution and maintenance of democracy. These elements are accessible and allow the evaluation of the democratic character of the state. The measurement of the democratic rights can also be helped by counting the negative votes. The majority of the democracies are homogenous. The federal democracies have elaborated methods to separate the divisions of the state in order to be able to govern themselves. The problem of the centralization was that the political boundaries continue to make the citizens feel like strangers in their own country. The auto determination was strictly related to the way in which the political power was decentralized. An interesting point is how the political decision-making depends or not on the majority and if the consensus between all groups is sought when major problems of public interest are debated. “A democracy should be more than a society based on winners and losers. […] The informal distribution of power has a particular importance in order to judge the degree of success of the democracy of political parties which is based on the legitimacy and the will to attain a national consensus” .
Even if Gastil’s analysis was made on a different period, the theoretical elements of his thesis are still useful for the analysis of the relation between freedom, democracy and the brand.
The Brand of Democracy can be interpreted in more than one way. The democracy can be a brand because the democracy is wanted and promoted, it has a theory and there are strategies issued from this theory in order to transform a state into a democracy. A second interpretation can be that the democracy gives to the public the possibility to be creative. The brand of democracy can be analyzed according to the relation between the commercial brands and the way the political democracy works. This parallel shows in fact the factors that lead to prosperity, progress and human flourish, from both the political and marketing point of view.

Democracy as we said before is about freedom in general but also freedom of choice. The citizens of a democratic state have the choice. They have access to a large number of possibilities, the freedom to chose and change their minds in all the aspects of their lives as consumers of anything ( services or products), this is what makes them prosper, progress and flourish as human beings and as individuals members of a group. All this is possible because of the freedom of choice and of its results (in both ways of the comparison). Everyone goes to vote at the elections as everyone chooses a brand or another, supports or not a brand, is loyal or not to a brand. The results of our choices may come immediately (where the brand is concerned), later or never (in politics). Giving to the public the creative power, in the sense of giving them the power of expressing oneself and the right to chose is one of the major roles of the brand which works due to the communication between the brand and the client and vice versa. The brands work, can be developed and survive only in countries where they can find enough freedom; the freedom to create, to chose, to be in competition most likely to be found in democratic countries. The brands need a free market economy and to be able to share the wealth in order to sustain the development of the prosperity and the work places. The brands have appeared when the economy developed and the people’s possibility to learn, work and earn money in free countries, where the need of choice and competition came naturally. The history of the brands allows us to understand how they were able to touch the public’s emotions and desires. The messages of the brands introduced the public, since the beginning, into an ideal world, a better world, as the democracy did. The brands transmitted messages about well being, progress, and happiness and in general about the future and what could be. These all could be possible only if the consumers could financially afford the products and services or if these products or services where accessible (in the communist Era there was no choice because the international brands were not accessible). The brands are younger than we may think. As the specialists in this field state, in the States the brands are almost one hundred years old but in Europe they have almost fifty years old while in some countries they are just an ideal. The brands are the proof of the economic progress.
For many people nowadays the brands represent the freedom of choice of products and services of a better quality and the choice of a better quality of life. In the mature economies the brands answer to the social the psychological and spiritual needs of our lives. And the sensitive way of answering to these needs creates the evolution of desires and aspirations of the public. These desires are a part of the complex dream of prosperity, progress and human flourish. In the brand democracy the consumers vote when choosing a brand, when they buy products every day. There is a two ways relation between the consumers and the brands. Their communication and mutual trust are imperative.
The Brand designers have to be in a permanent relation with the clients, they need to prove the quality of their services and their long lasting motivation in order to last on the market. If the Brand is directly related to the democracy and to freedom, then there also must be an ethical contract between brands and clients, based on respect and vision and quality principles which are based on the values and principles that the people appreciate and value the most. The Brands are also a promise of the prosperity and progress of the consumer’s life.
Some brand experts consider that the brands are more democratic than the formal democratic institutions including the elections and the government. If a consumer is not willing to purchase a brand because that consumer doesn’t like it anymore, he or she is making a statement, a choice visible at that moment. The people, who vote for a candidate, lose their power of choice until the next elections and also the power to influence the present of the politics. We can also say that there is no control on the future of the promises that the politician make during their campaign. No one can know for sure that those promises are going to be kept. Meanwhile the brand needs to keep its promises in order to survive and to grow. Both the client’s vote and the profit are a kind of return of investment because the existence and the prosperity of the brand are related to the consumer’s vote (as a source of profit). The profit is generated by the client’s satisfaction. The affective and value capital produce profit if the promises are kept. This can also be said about the politics in a certain way, but the profit is more difficult to be measured and it takes a lot of time. The relation between the brand and the consumers is closer than in the case of the relations between the public and the politicians. The Government doesn’t need the consensus of the electorate on every single problem; some of them are not even debated in public. They don’t need a vote on every case. The Business seems to have won the race with the politics in the role of force of social change. And a government should be more responsible and more sensitive to those who gave them a voice if they were to be considered brands.
The brands are reinforced due to the fact that they answer to the public needs. The governments arrive at the top of the power and keep it also because of their capacity to threat and punish (as would Foucault say). The politicians receive the votes based on their promises during the campaign and the brands receive the votes for the results of their work. The votes for the brands are renewed very often as the brand opens new lines on the market or launches new products. While in politics there is the law of “all or nothing” in the case of the brands there are no winners and losers. From the vote received for a political program there are no details about which part of the program finally received the vote. The rate cost/benefit is easier to calculate in the case of the brand. When voting for a brand the consumer pays directly to the cashier. The relation between the candidate’s vote and the taxes cannot be calculated. As a conclusion, in order to improve the government’s brand you have to improve the democratic process, reinforce the law and the rule of law and the transparency.
The relation between the brand and the democracy is not a new one. The father of modern American democracy, Thomas Jefferson, never imagined the brand of his government in a non-agrarian society. A part of the brands of consume are born as the Jefferson’s world disappeared. In the XIX-Th century, the massive migration of the population towards the city showed that the consumers didn’t know anymore where the products they purchased came from. The brand’s evolution made possible for them to know who the producers are. The brand made possible the opening of the markets in order to be accessible to as many consumers as possible. All these factors made the evolution of the market possible. The trade gave power to the Western countries. It is there that the modern democracy evolved (according to the theory of the development of the world economy ).
Between Gastil’s list of liberties and the brand specialist we can find a common idea: the freedom to have a passport and to earn money (in order to be able to travel) are essential freedoms that are directly related to the brands. The people who travel are individual ambassadors who transmit the cultural values of their country of origin. In order to prosper and to flourish and to be happy, people need to learn more and to travel more in order to learn things that they wouldn’t be able to know otherwise.

By measuring the democracy of a country according to Gastil’s indicators we can find out which are the chances for a brand to have success in that country. On the other hand, it has been proven by the current studies that the brand is the result of the most democratic process possible. The brands would not exist without the active participation of the consumers, their votes are visible and measurable at any time and without these votes the brands would disappear.

Bibliography:

ANHOLT, SIMON, “Competitive Identity”, Ed. Palgrave Macmillan, 2007,134 pps.
ANHOLT, SIMON, HILDRETH JEREMY, “Brand America”, Ed. Cyan, Great Britain, 2004,192 pps.
GASTIL RAYMOND DUNCAN, “The Comparative Survey on Freedom: Experiences and Suggestions”, On Measuring Democracy, ed. By Alex Inkeles, Ed. Transaction Publishers, New Jersey, 1991.
JANOS ANDREW C. “The Politics of backwardness in Continental Europe 1780-1945”, World Politics, Vol.41, Nr.3, April 1989, pp.325-358, http://links.jstor.org.

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