Political branding is an increasingly prominent term in both the academic and industry realms of political communication. Yet much debate has been waging regarding its viability as a concept of study. Some scholars express concern regarding the impact on democratic discourse and voter engagement, while others question its existence beyond a trendy marketing phrase. Before such questions of impact can be explored in-depth, it is important to first determine if political branding can actually be detected and measured as a truly unique form
of political communication.
The question of political branding as a measurable form of political communication will be explored through the lens of the 2011 Canadian federal election. The study begins by briefly tracing the historical evolution of political
communication in post-war democracies. From there, various definitions of the concept are discussed, before moving to some of political branding’s key features. A multimodal content analysis is preformed on 33 television
advertisements from the three major political parties participating in the 2011 Canadian federal election in an attempt to discover if branded qualities are present in the advertising content, and if so, to what extent?