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Political Branding in Action: Presidential branding in Indonesia.

As Indonesia stands on the threshold of global prominence, the strategic portrayal of a compelling brand personality through presidential branding and the crafting of a campaign's brand becomes a national imperative. This piece explores how political branding has shaped Indonesia's political trajectory, becoming a pivotal element in campaign strategies and the nation's potential for the future.

a figure is holding an emblem with the president of indonesia, in the style of lens flares, princesscore, detailed crowd scenes, gold and amber, ps1 graphics, farm security administration aesthetics, performance --ar 2:1
Indonesian Presidential Branding: Driving Indonesia's Transformation into a Global Economic Powerhouse.

In the realm of commerce and politics alike, branding, including political and presidential branding, Indonesia, serves as a pervasive and influential concept. It reflects the perception of a product or a candidate in the minds of consumers or voters respectively. David Aaker, a distinguished brand strategist, aptly stated, "Branding adds spirit and a soul to what would otherwise be a robotic, automated, generic price-value proposition." This spirit, this soul, forms the essence of any political campaign, particularly in Indonesia, setting the framework for how candidates connect with their constituents and present their brand persona.

Indonesian political branding, in recent decades, have exemplified the increasing significance of presidential branding, evolving into an intriguing display of the potency of such strategies in electoral campaigns. This strength originates from the psychological linkage voters establish between selecting a product and casting a vote for a candidate. As Paul Feldwick, a noted advertising copywriter and brand strategist, proclaims, "People don't just buy products, they buy the narratives that go with them." Hence, voters do not merely opt for a candidate; they invest in their narratives, their personas, and their pledges, highlighting the pivotal role of political branding in Indonesia's democratic landscape.

Indonesia's Economic Trajectory: Seizing the Global Spotlight

According to a forecast by Standard Chartered, backed by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Indonesia is set to become the world's fourth-largest economy by 2030. This report places Indonesia behind China, India, and the United States, spotlighting the incredible economic growth potential that lies within the country.

The implications of this projected economic ascendancy are immense. As Indonesia rises to become an economic powerhouse, its influence on the global stage will become more substantial. This further underlines the crucial role of the country's next president in effectively steering this potential towards real growth and development.

In the face of such transformative prospects, it becomes even more vital for presidential candidates to have a well-crafted brand strategy. A powerful and authentic brand persona can attract not only the hearts of voters but also the backing of influential business leaders and donors.

top 10 countries in terms of gdp 2015 2020 infographic, in the style of bold and vibrant watercolors, forced perspective, philip pearlstein, bright palette, realistic hyper-detail, photo taken with nikon d750, indian motifs --ar 25:13, indonesia, usa, china, india
Illustration of the top contributing countries to the global economy in 2030, with Indonesia as a key player.

A Historical Perspective on Branding in Indonesian Presidential Campaigns

Reflecting upon the presidential elections in Indonesia reveals the evolution of branding strategies and their impact. Soeharto, who ruled Indonesia for over three decades, offered stability in a time of turmoil, with his persona encapsulating a strong, steady hand guiding the nation. This branding appealed to an electorate desiring security and continuity.

Reflecting upon the presidential elections in Indonesia reveals the evolution of branding strategies and their undeniable impact on the nation's trajectory. From the charismatic Soekarno to the approachable Joko Widodo, each leader has offered a unique persona that encapsulates their vision for Indonesia, influencing not just their election but the direction of the nation.

Soekarno: The Proclaimer of Independence

As Indonesia's first president, Soekarno, also known as Sukarno, was a charismatic figure who personified the struggle for independence. His persona of a defiant, anti-imperialist leader resonated deeply with the masses. This branding appealed to an electorate yearning for self-governance and a unified nation, setting the stage for the brand personas of future presidents.

Soeharto: The Father of Development

Following Soekarno, Soeharto's presidency represented a shift in Indonesia's political branding. He offered stability in a time of turmoil, with his persona encapsulating a strong, steady hand guiding the nation towards modernization and economic growth. This branding appealed to an electorate desiring security and continuity, demonstrating the power of a well-crafted brand persona.

B.J. Habibie: The Innovative Technocrat

Succeeding Soeharto, B.J. Habibie brought a brand persona marked by innovation and intellectual prowess. Habibie's technocratic approach and commitment to reform played a crucial role in leading Indonesia through troubled times caused by the Asian Financial Crisis and political upheaval. His vision of change and progress struck a chord with the electorate that craved for a better future.

Gus Dur: The Intellectual and Humanist

In stark contrast to his predecessors, Gus Dur adopted the persona of a humble intellectual. His brand of modesty and wisdom resonated with Indonesians, leading him to a brief yet impactful tenure as the nation's leader.

Megawati: The Daughter of Democracy

Megawati Sukarnoputri, Indonesia's first female President, projected resilience and dedication, a persona sculpted through her own personal and political trials. This persona resonated with many Indonesians, creating a strong connection between her and the electorate.

Bambang Yudhoyono: The Reformist General

Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, a retired military general, embraced a brand persona embodying firmness, efficiency, and integrity, leveraging his military background to reinforce this image. His successful two-term presidency demonstrated the effectiveness of a well-crafted and authentic brand persona.

Joko Widodo: The People's President

Fast-forwarding to the most recent President, Joko Widodo has successfully leveraged the power of an authentic, 'everyman' persona to secure two terms in office. His frequent casual blusukan (impromptu visits) to markets, slums, and factories bolster his image as an approachable, down-to-earth leader who understands and empathizes with his people's struggles. His is an illustrative case of how a well-developed and genuine brand persona can appeal to a wide cross-section of the electorate.

Who's Next?

Indonesia's history illustrates how a president's brand persona can deeply impact a nation's trajectory. As Indonesia stands on the cusp of being the world's fourth-largest economy, the next president will need a brand persona that reflects the aspirations of a modern, dynamic, and increasingly global Indonesia. This persona should embody progressive values, show commitment to sustainable and inclusive growth, and resonate with a diverse population spread across thousands of islands. Authenticity, transparency, and a vision for the future will be crucial elements of this brand persona, as Indonesia continues its journey on the global stage.

The Indispensable Power of Political Branding: A Strong Identity and Personality in Political Marketing

Marrying insights from political science and the Journal of Brand Management, it becomes increasingly evident that political branding and campaigning demand a robust brand identity and personality. This branding amalgamates elements like slogans, logo and visual design, and website design to shape voters' perceptions, setting candidates apart from their competitors.

Take, for example, Barack Obama's 'Hope' slogan, a testament to the rebranding potential in politics. It wasn't just a slogan; it was a complete reimagining of brand identity. And at the heart of this identity lay a striking logo, reflecting the color and naming strategy that set the stage for a powerful campaign brand.

Logos in politics are more than just symbols—they are potent visual tools that encapsulate a campaign's essence. A well-designed logo can act as a lighthouse, illuminating the candidate's ideology and offering an immediate, identifiable link to them. A feat that not only captures attention but positions candidates favorably in voters' minds, as showcased by studies in the Journal of Brand Management.

However, political branding extends beyond logos and slogans. It involves crafting an identity embedded with patriotism and party core values. While this journey may encompass both advantages and disadvantages, political branding's true power lies in its potential to build strong brand equity—a significant determining factor in the race for office.

The Modern Shift: Digital Era and the Evolution of Brand Identity and Personality

In today's digital age, Indonesian voters enjoy vast access to information and unprecedented opportunities for political communication, making an authentic and engaging brand persona crucial for election campaigns. However, this digital revolution also offers politicians a rich data reservoir to strategically shape their brand personas. Indonesia boasts one of the highest social media penetration rates worldwide, registering around 160 million users in 2021. Consequently, social media channels have become indispensable tools for presidential candidates to communicate their campaign brands and engage with voters, responding to public sentiment in real time.

In the Journal of Marketing, there's compelling evidence of the importance of authenticity in leadership branding. Implementing a strong brand persona in the presidential campaign demands an in-depth understanding and clear articulation of the candidate’s values, strengths, and beliefs. Furthermore, it requires an acute awareness of the electorate's concerns, values, and aspirations. This dual perspective guarantees the development of a brand persona that is both genuine to the candidate and resonates with voters.

Consider, for instance, a candidate aiming to portray themselves as a reformist. They must incarnate transformation, showcasing their commitment to challenging the status quo and implementing changes that will directly benefit the average Indonesian. Conversely, a candidate aiming to foster a traditionalist persona must exemplify profound respect for Indonesia's cultural and societal values, all while pragmatically navigating the demands of the modern world.

After establishing the brand persona, maintaining consistent communication across all platforms—traditional and digital—is paramount. Ensuring a unified message and tone across all interactions strengthens the brand image and builds trust with the electorate. An apt demonstration of this strategy is Joko Widodo’s blusukan visits, broadcasted across various media platforms, reinforcing his image as a people's leader.

Modern campaigns also gain from two-way dialogues with the electorate. Utilizing social media, town halls, and public forums, politicians can listen to voter concerns, respond to their feedback, and display empathy—a vital characteristic of any successful brand persona. This social and political engagement boosts the humanistic side of the campaign, strengthening connections between candidates and voters.

As business writer David Meerman Scott aptly points out, “People want to be part of the conversation, not just talked at.”

Transforming the Landscape: The Future of Branding in Indonesian Presidential Campaigns

The power of branding in presidential campaigns is irrefutable. The advent of the digital age has amplified this power, providing candidates with new ways to engage with voters and present their brand personas. As Indonesian voters become increasingly discerning, the ability to balance strategic brand management with sincere, personable communication becomes vital.

According to a study by the Centre for Strategic and International Studies, Indonesian voters increasingly value transparency, integrity, and a candidate's ability to respond to their concerns. These trends underscore the importance of an authentic brand persona in winning over the modern Indonesian voter.

As we look to the future, one thing is clear: the candidates who can craft a compelling, authentic brand persona—rooted in an understanding of their own values and the needs of the electorate—will have a distinct advantage in the race to the presidency.

The Intersection of Charisma, Vision, and Fundraising

Successful fundraising in today's political landscape is not solely about the charisma of the candidate. It also involves aligning the candidate's brand purpose, vision, and mission with their persona in a way that resonates with potential donors.

For instance, a candidate with a brand persona centered around sustainable economic growth might draw the support of business leaders and donors who prioritize environmental conservation and socially responsible business practices. Such supporters would be more inclined to contribute to a campaign whose purpose aligns with their own values and vision.

Crafting Memorable Experiences: A Continuum from Campaign to Governance

Creating a memorable brand experience is paramount in the journey from campaign trail to the presidential palace. It is about infusing every touchpoint—public speeches, policy proposals, candid moments—with the candidate's brand persona, creating a coherent narrative that voters can relate to.

Moreover, this experience shouldn't cease at the polling booth. It should evolve into a presidential brand that continues to engage and inspire supporters throughout the president's term. A successful brand experience will shape public perception of the elected leader, influencing their ability to govern effectively and make impactful decisions.


Indonesia, on the verge of becoming a major global economy, requires leaders with effective branding strategies and personas to win the electorate and guide the nation towards prosperity. Authenticity, resonance, and shared vision evolve into national necessities, more than just strategic benefits. This isn't merely a presidential race; it's about securing Indonesia's place globally.

Future leaders face the task of developing a brand persona that resonates with Indonesians, inspires trust, and kindles a national vision.

At Bedrock Asia, we dive deep into the vital crossroads of politics and brand strategy that will shape Indonesia's future. We invite you to join us in this essential discussion and collaborative journey towards a more prosperous Indonesia. Feel free to explore a conversation with our brand consultant.

Learn how Bedrock Asia is helping companies across industries to build brands that last.


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