The last time America had two grassroots protesting groups gaining critical mass simultaneously was when women’s suffrage and prohibition shared the national stage.
A hundred years later their 21st century successors are the “Tea Party” and “Occupy Wall Street.” And like their indignant forebears, the new kids on the block have just enough things in common that they’re often compared to each other, in spite of the fact that they’re really quite different, including, as you will see, in non-political ways.
Both the Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street (OWS) believe that the objects of their indignation are broken and must be reformed. Essentially, the Tea Party wants to make the Federal government more fiscally responsible, while OWS demands that 21st century capitalism include elements of social justice. And in some cases both groups are itching for the same reform, like ending taxpayer bail-outs and restricting the influence of lobbyists. But here is where they diverge.
Protests by the Tea Party helped it resurrect and assume a legendary brand. But their actions were quickly polished into a cogent brand story that is being leveraged within the existing political process. As proof, in less than two years the Tea Party told their brand story sufficiently to elect enough members of Congress to significantly influence the national policy debate.
OWS protests have also created a compelling brand. Consequently, it has acquired one of the best forms of business serendipity – free PR. But, as reported in a recent article on PostAdvertising.com, the lack of a cohesive message – caused by demands that range from Tea Party-ish to Utopia – has prevented the crafting and delivery of a successful brand story. Unfortunately, as the article concludes, the OWS story is being written and told by others.
Our online research supports the foregoing appraisal. When we polled our audience about which group will have the greatest impact on the 2012 elections, Occupy Wall Street came in at 11%, while 89% thought the Tea Party would stir things up the most. A companion poll asked if either movement was “Good for America.” Over 80% said yes to the Tea Party, while only13% favored OWS.
Regardless of which ideals you align with politically, as a small business owner you must take a lesson from how the two groups manage their brands and brand stories. One is finding success by writing and telling their own story; the other one – not so much.
Who’s writing and telling your brand story?
I talked more about telling your small business’ brand story today on The Small Business Advocate Show. Take a few minutes to download or listen.