But what does it take to craft a successful slogan these days? According to Dann, the formulation of three-word phrases has little to do with social media despite its much touted influence on the 2013 campaign. That hasn't stopped Rudd hiring the brains behind Obama's winning online strategy in 2012, luring the likes of Tim McMahon, Jim Koon and the head of Obama's "Rapid Response Team" Matthew McGregor -- otherwise known as Obama's "digital attack dog" -- who is capable of creating viral spoof videos on short demand. "Today a slogan needs to fit a banner headline of a major masthead newspaper with a gentle rewrite or limited word substitutions -- we're not yet in the age of the 140-character slogans," he said. "The #auspol hashtag has come down to being a small group of familiar faces who get retweeted a lot." One of those familiar faces is Amy Mullins, a social media professional by day who is known online as "Get Shortened" and the creator of an independent blog on Australian political media. Mullins told Crikey that Abbott is drawn to the traditional press given his unfamiliarity with social media. "Tony Abbott has struggled to find his voice on social media and as this medium reinforces authenticity and supports transparency and scrutiny, it can be more damaging to struggle with social media under public scrutiny than to just work the media well," said Mullins. But Brookes believes the gap between Rudd and Abbott has narrowed on social media in recent years. "Labor may have a slight edge on the Liberals when it comes to social media campaigning but its early days and Tony Abbott is already doing a better job that he was during the 2010 election campaign," she said. And while both major parties tailor their slogans for the front pages of daily tabloids and television grabs, or engage in discussion with voters on social media, a new battle is underway with parties seeking to lay claim to colour as political capital. With Wayne Swan retiring his trademark canary yellow from the seat of Lilley this year, Clive Palmer's Palmer United Party have saturated its branding with the colour and the slogans "Bringing people together" and "Reunite the nation". Palmer himself is set to contest the seat of Liley this year. "Colour has always been an important part of political branding, but especially so this election campaign," said Dann. "It's getting to the point where the two major parties now act alike, sound alike, and judging by their use of colour on political pamphlets look alike." Labor's efforts to rebrand under Rudd have also resulted in a shift of colour palettes. "'A New Way' means new visuals with Labor moving away from solid red, white and blue that represent the traditional ALP brand," said Mullins. "Instead Labor have used softer variants on their core colour scheme with cream, crimson red and a deeper navy in a gradated arrow symbol with retro cues." Even the political branding of the Liberal Party has adopted yellow in its political advertisements of late, a distinct change from the traditional navy blue associated with the party (or even their choice of neckties). Of course, these face value changes make little if any difference to electoral results should political parties fail to present costed policies to the public or outline a political vision. Indeed there’s a risk that our politicians are missing the simple tenets of communication. "The best branding is always based on truth," said Caro. "At the moment the major parties are slavishly following a set of marketing guidelines without having the slightest clue what they really mean."
Coke or Pepsi: election campaigns in the age of branding
Political parties spend vast amounts of money on branding, marketing and advertising. But it takes more than bright colours and three word slogans to win hearts and minds, writes Crikey intern Henry Belot.