Mike Damphousse
Posted by Mike Damphousse
  |   2 Minute Read

DISCLAIMER: This post is in no way making a political statement endorsing either candidate. It is meant to simply explore the principles of category design as it pertained to a political battle, regardless of the outcome.

Condition the Market

When category design is done properly, the discipline creates and develops a new category and conditions the market so it is compelled to demand your solution. If executed flawlessly, the result is that the company or person that did the category design reigns as the category leader - dominating the market. The competitors are left wondering what just blind sided them.

One of the key aspects of the category design process is defining your category. Once the category is defined, then a Point of View (POV) is developed which sets the tone for all follow-on activity leading to the ultimate goal of capturing the market.

As stated in the book Play Bigger, the category will become the “north star for the company, influencing strategy and execution across all departments. Keep it simple, powerful, clear and different….the product you make should be the unique solution to the problem the category identifies.”

Candidate Trump redefined the category of President. In a recent piece in New York Times, David Brooks stated "Trumpism is an utter repudiation of modern conservatism," and "We’re in a state of radical flux. Political parties can turn on a dime. At least that means it’s a time to think anew." Trump shunned both parties, the one that he used to gain the nomination (GOP), and the Democrats, who he attacked at every turn – an overly aggressive tactic similar to the business tactic of de-positioning your competition.

Target Persona and Point of View

In business, our Target Persona is a key aspect of how we develop and communicate our Category, and our POV. In politics, Persona is as important, if not more important. Trump saw the populist movement of Americans looking for something different. Americans that wanted a movement, not just a campaign or a politician. The Persona he faced was diverse to say the least, but there was a common thread. Trump redefined his category. He would be the non-establishment, business person to get shit done with the people – his people.

Like it or hate it, he was clear in his mission. From there, he developed his POV, and it was simple.

The Slogans:
Trump chose “Make America Great Again."
Hillary chose “Stronger Together."

What is the Problem they are trying to solve?
Trump states that the Problem is that America is not as great as it once was and we need to bring it back to greatness.
Hillary states that something will be stronger if we are united and if we do something.

What is the Solution to the Problem?
Trump implies that if we elect him, we will Make America Great Again.
Hillary states that Together we should unite around her, and we need to be Stronger. Before "Stronger Together" there was “I’m With Her,” and “Fighting for Us” and “Breaking Down Barriers.” All of which she walked away from and altered her POV course.

Category Design 101

One of the failures of category design is change. Do not shift from your initial gut instinct. Stick to the plan. Go through those iterations and versions behind closed doors and once you launch your strike and bring it public to stay with it. Slogan 4.0 could have been just be slightly different versions 1.0, 2.0 and 3.0 – but maintain a similar POV.

Ray Hennessey in Entreprenuer suggests that "'Stronger Together' was designed to be inclusive, but it wasn’t a call to action. Yes, people are stronger when they are united, but the slogan seemed like a suggestion to tie all the lifeboats together and ration out the remaining hardtack and water."

Whereas Trump chose the word “Make” which is significant. It is all encompassing, and an action statement. It is inclusive where both Trump and the people will Make America Great Again. There is not a clear statement in Hillary’s slogans that are that wide. The universe was limited in her case to “Her”, whereas Trump opened his universe to everyone willing to embrace him and his POV. It was a rallying cry, compelling his supporters to feel as if they were part of the solution.

The Trump campaign then Mobilized the category design with “Make America Great Again” everywhere. Those ugly hats. The signs. In his stump speeches. And being chanted at events. They created it, mobilized it, and stuck with it to this day. They kept it simple. Even the secondary slogans were short, simple and chantable, "Lock Her Up", and "Build The Wall". Every supporter had a campaign kit that was easy to deploy.

Political beliefs aside, Trump won the Category Design election hands down.