What's in a name, BC Liberals ask? 0
Fear of a name increases fear of the thing itself.
- J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
"We should be considering and actively debating a name change in our party, and I'm glad we're doing it," Premier Christy Clark said last week. But if the B.C. Liberals do pick a new name they will be breaking new ground.
In the last 50 years, I can find no record of a Canadian political party in power for over a decade changing its name before it faced an election. The only major re-branding for a governing party came when the Saskatchewan Cooperative Commonwealth Federation, or CCF, became the New Democratic Party while ruling the Prairie province in 1961.
And Clark should consider the example of famous brand names such as Maple Leaf Foods, Tylenol and Jack in the Box.
They all suffered international bad publicity after poisoning deaths, but you can still buy their sliced meats, pop their pills or enjoy their hamburgers - and millions do.
Global brand research agency Millward Brown has a strong warning for anyone considering a name change.
"In our experience, many brands see an immediate five to 20% decline in sales, and can take years to restore levels, while others are negatively affected only in the short term," the market researcher states.
The reasons why Clark is thinking of switching rather than fighting are clear - the B.C. Liberals are badly losing their market share of voters to competitors.
A Forum Research poll released May 3 shows the BC NDP at 48% support, versus the BC Liberals at 23% and BC Conservatives at 18%.
But the brand name problem for the B.C. Liberals is two-fold - the 2013 election is definitely in the short term - and they don't want to "hold steady" or just restore levels back to the 23% voter support they have now, before a name change - they want to double that back to the 46% they took to win the 2009 election.
CORRECTION: In last week's column I inaccurately said only British Columbians pay Vancouver International Airport's Airport Improvement Fee. In fact, tourists visiting here and all others flying beyond the province via YVR pay the $20 fee. Only connecting passengers avoid it. I regret the error.
Read more Tieleman at www.TheTyee.ca and http://billtieleman.blogspot.com/ Email: firstname.lastname@example.org