Qanon - it's rebrand time!

The protagonist of the Qanon brand story has been written out. Part one of this Qanon rebrand series explains what's happening and offers a template for Qanon's next steps.

When the main character’s written out

In most pockets of the US, President Trump lost his recent re-election campaign. If the preceding 58 presidential elections are any indication, Trump will be out of office come January 20th, when Joe Biden is sworn in as the 46th President of the United States. This means the main character of the Qanon brand story will soon be written out. 

For newcomers who’ve not read my first Qanon post, the central plot of the Qanon brand story is that the deep state wants to remove Trump from office because there's a:

...worldwide cabal of Satan-worshiping pedophiles who rule the world, essentially, and they control everything. They control politicians, and they control the media. They control Hollywood, and they cover up their existence, essentially. And they would have continued ruling the world, were it not for the election of President Donald Trump.

A brand-story is a narrative explaining a brand’s reason for existence, meant to elicit an emotional response. In evoking this response, the brand story establishes an emotional connection between the brand’s offerings and its audience. The stronger the connection, the more devout the customer. Consider the resonance of the brand stories built around Muhammed, Jesus Christ, and L. Ron Hubbard. Strong stuff!

The Qanon brand story above posits Trump as an underdog savior, fighting alone against long odds to rid the world of the worst people possible. If you have the requisite amount of worms in your brain to believe it, it’s quite compelling. 

The office of the presidency is what endows Trump with the power to fight the cabal. Although he’s but one man against the world, he’s been voted into power and is thus empowered by the people. Both elements help to create the central conflict and uncertainty required for a compelling story.

Without Trump as President, there’s no protagonist in the brand story. Without the protagonist, Qanon loses a major part of its raison d'etre and the conflict to make its story compelling. It’s time for Qanon to rebrand.

The Family of Love > The Children of God

The Children of God, an evangelical cult founded in the late 60’s notorious for its criminal interpretation of biblical texts, offers an effective template for Qanon’s needed rebrand. After allegations of financial mismanagement and sexual abuse of minors left its brand reeking of impropriety, The Children were in dire need of a fresh start. To distance itself from its own stench, it rebranded as The Family of Love. Tough to impugn a group with a name like that.

With a new name came the need to rebuild awareness and attract new followers. To do so, the Family of Love empowered the broader flock to use a tactic which previously had only been used by the inner circle: Flirty Fishing. The practice involved female members luring converts into the cult by demonstrating to them “god’s love and mercy” through sexual acts. 

Removing the word ‘God’ broadened The Family’s audience by removing a potentially polarizing word. By inserting ‘love’ into its name, the sect created a connection between the way god conveys love (sex) and the purpose of the sect—a greater connection to god’s love. Membership swelled.

The house that Q built

A re-brand is like remodeling a house - keep what works, bulldoze the rest. And just like a remodel, a rebrand can increase the asset’s value: It’s an opportunity to attract new customers, broadcast new values, and stay current. 

With that in mind, the two pillars of the Qanon brand appeal should be left intact:

  1. Exclusivity: As part of the in-group, Q followers are privy to secrets that most can’t decipher or are too ignorant to pay attention to. There’s a reason why members-only clubs exist: it’s cool to be on the inside. 

  2. Echo chambers feel good: If you believe in a global satanic cabal, chances are you don’t pay much heed to traditional news. Since Qanon isn’t part of the day’s ambient news, it has to be sought on non-traditional media platforms (4chan, Twitter, Facebook, etc.). These platforms facilitate conversation, so participants’ get to digitally echo back—reaffirm—to each other how right they are about their theories. And, when the President publicly declines to repudiate Qanon, the echoes reverberate even louder. Affirmation feels good, and if something feels good, you’ll want to do it more. 

Despite Trump’s ouster, Qanon can remain both exclusive and an echo chamber. All it has to do is rebuild a compelling new brand story and purpose without its hero. Next week, we’ll put forth some potential options for these keyboard patriots as they head into uncertain times.

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Song of the week: Feeling down about Q’s prospects? Don’t! Let McFadden & Whitehead pump you up with ‘Ain’t No Stoppin’ Us Now’. Gotta keep moving!