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Chris Christie’s political timing and his lesson for business owners, marketers

Gov. Chris Christie’s political posturing illustrates an important branding lesson for business owners, Wisnefski says. (Scott Olson/GETTY IMAGES)

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie will this evening deliver the keynote speech at the Republican National Convention, which is often considered a launching pad for future political runs. The address will undoubtedly have an immediate impact on the governor’s brand, and its timing already offers an important lesson for business owners.

Popular among conservatives, Christie has built a well-known brand in the Garden State for making “the hard choices” with a sort of tough-Jersey attitude and boldness that has slightly more than 50 percent of the state’s voters giving him a favorable rating.

Christie is expected to deliver a “very direct” speech that will show the “hard truths” about the present state of the country. This is Christie’s brand. This is his core competency. Delivering this speech to the American people is a perfect match between the governor and the message that conservatives want to deliver. Christie’s message is expected to rally voters and drive support for the soon-to-be-nominated Mitt Romney.

Many political strategists feel this is also the biggest stage for Christie’s political future in his ability to make a lasting impression on the national level to support his future political ambitions.

Leveraging his core branding message and expanding it at the appropriate point in his political career offers a lesson to small business owners and marketing strategists; that is, the way Christie has methodically transformed his image in a consistent and controlled approach, only to now aggressively launch it forward, shows that timing is everything in branding strategy.

We have seen examples of branding strategies both succeed and fail based on timing. Starbucks, for example, successfully expanded its brand when the timing was right. The company built a business model that was focused on its core competencies, remained consistent with them, and ensured its operations were scalable before expanding.

However, on the other end, there are examples like Coca-Cola in the ‘70s and early ‘80s. The company deviated from its core brand and attempted to introduce a new branding model to the market. The timing was wrong and consumers felt Coca-Cola strayed away from its brand, which did not fare well for the company. Consumers were outraged and Coke executives promptly re-launched their original formula.

Christie’s selection as the keynote speaker also indicates that other members of the party support his image, and any time a brand or marketing message has lateral support from additional angles, that helps the viability of the brand survive in the marketplace.

The message to small business owners and brand strategists is clear. When working with a localized brand, it is important to leverage your core competencies and enhance your message at a controlled pace and then capitalize on the appropriate timing of the brand. In doing so, you can control the pace and ensure you are not deviating from the original product that consumers expect from your company.

Kenneth Wisnefski is the founder and CEO of WebiMax, an online marketing agency based in Mount Laurel, N.J. WebiMax was recently selected No. 37 on the 2012 Inc. 500|5000 list and the No. 1 fastest growing private company in New Jersey. The company’s core products and services include search engine optimization, search engine marketing, paid search and PPC, website design and development, reputation management and more.

Follow Kenneth Wisnefski and On Small Business on Twitter.

Related: Obama, Romney could benefit from some brand-buidling basics



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