Creating brands for politicians is always a work in progress: immediate, hyper-competitive, ever-evolving and ever-adapting to changes in the electorate and changes in the opposition’s brand strategy.
Until Tuesday, it looked as if Barack Obama was setting the gold standard, providing a lesson on how to create and execute a crystal-clear branding program in just over six months. Now it is time for a revision, without compromising all the winning aspects of the Obama brand.
What still works:
Brand Promise: Obama’s promise of change has rekindled America’s spirit and resonated with voters who are tired of the negativism and attack ads that have characterized recent political campaigns. While opponents have attacked his lofty language, credentials, and lack of experience, Obama steadfastly sticks to his theme of positive change.
Integrated Brand Communications: His brand campaign presents a model of integrated communications and stands in contrast to most of the leading brands in the market, which haven’t been able to coordinate their efforts.
Brand Response: His brand campaign is run with military efficiency. No attack is allowed to linger without an immediate, targeted, and articulate response.
Brand Voice: The most powerful quality of the Obama brand is the clarity of his messages, reinforced by his grasp of detail: his calm, measured responses and the elegance of his language, which is devoid of scare tactics. The Obama brand speaks to Americans in a language Americans can understand.
What needs revision:
While keeping his authenticity and brand voice, Obama must respond more effectively to Hillary Clinton’s promise of experience and a perceived readiness to serve as Commander-in-Chief that resonates with her core audiences. He must challenge those assumptions without going negative, without getting down in the dirt.
Obama basically needs to reposition Clinton by challenging the quality of her experience, but in a way that resonates with his brand voice.
Building and revising political brands is like building corporate brands on steroids. It is a laboratory for us all to watch how quickly, how efficiently, and how effectively the entire branding process can work – with clear winners and losers at the end of the day.