How Hillary's selfie stunt tapped into a powerful branding trend

* 2 min read

The photo of a crowd of supporters turning their backs on US presidential candidate Hilary Clinton perfectly captures the age of the selfie.

Far from being a snub, the campaigners were simply placing themselves in the same photo frame as Mrs Clinton. Increasingly we prefer to be part of the event rather than looking at the event.

This desire to be seen to be there is being exploited by products keen to identify themselves with their customers. It has been dubbed “debriefing” by marketeers. This is where a company removed its name from its logo, often in an attempt to make themselves appear more personal.

Coca-Cola tried this by dropping its name and replacing it with the most 150 popular British first names. This campaign known as Share a Coke worked as people looked for their name on a bottle or bought a bottle with a friend’s name on it.

Coke’s experiment to remove its traditional logo didn’t detract from its image because its branding, even without its instantly recognised logo is iconic; the red and white bottle and ring pull can is recognised worldwide. The packaging is as famous as the name which shows how and colour and shape can be equally as effective in identifying a product.

Coca Cola personalised bottles2 min

Starbucks has also tried to appear less corporate by removing its moniker and debranding some of its stores so that they seem more local.

Marmite is another product that has gone down this route by allowing you to create a personalised jar, where your name replaces its. Again the shape of the jar and the familiar label means there is no detracting from the brand. Customers are identifying themselves with the product.

Nike is a brand that has consistently used its distinct V shaped swoosh logo rather than its name to advertise its sportswear to the extent where the symbol has achieved a status as modern urban fashion. Similarly, Adidas uses the three stripes though only lately has it starting dropped its name.


The idea that the shape of a package or container, its image and colour can identify a brand as much as a name is creating interest among companies looking to enhance their marketing strategies and engage with consumers on a new level. Rather than shouting a name, the consumer is allowed to recognise the brand and in doing so associate themselves with the brand. Innovation means packaging can be an essential part of that campaign.

Hillary recognised this in her photo stunt. She involved herself with ordinary people and instantly made herself less aloof and approachable; such is the power of the selfie.