You can tell an empty brand from a full one by looking at the intersection of who or what they say they are, and what they actually do.
A restaurant can make use of the colors, marketing, hiring practices, and prices of a healthy, all natural, ground-to-plate endeavor, but in practice their food can be unhealthy, their suppliers inhumane, and their sanitation suspect.
A politician can be declared a man of the people, a champion of local businesses, and a righter of wrongs, despite having always had a silver spoon, unfriendly outsourcing policies, and a dubious relationship with the law.
There’s a big difference between what someone or something is known to be and what they actually are. Unfortunately, this gulf can be difficult to spot due to fuzzy information, lack of transparency, and very convincing ‘experts’ who are anything but, spouting out facts that couldn’t be further from factual.
It’s not that you can’t trust anyone or anything you see, but if there’s money or power involved, chances are you’re not getting the whole truth. Keep this in mind at the polls and at the check-out counter.
Update: February 23, 2017
It’s truly remarkable how skillfully brands and politicians (who are brands) manipulate us into thinking certain things about them. It’s the rational thing for them to do, so it’s not like they’re being evil in doing so, but it demonstrates how even conscious, thinking adult human beings can be manipulated without them even realizing it. These tricks are so powerful that, even knowing what they are, having worked in the branding world, I still fall prey to them all the time.