Friday, March 07, 2008

New Branding Needed

There's no way to put this delicately, so I won't: America's global image is in the crapper. Last year, the BBC World Service conducted a poll of over 26,000 individuals in the world's 25 largest countries and found that more than 52 percent thought the U.S. had a "mostly negative" influence on the world. Fifty-three percent of respondents to a survey by the Chicago Council on Global Affairs felt America could "not be trusted."...

"The virulent strain of anti-Americanism we're seeing now can be ascribed directly to the fact that we've reneged on our promise to the world," says Dick Martin, former executive vice president of public relations for AT&T, and author of the book "Rebuilding Brand America." "That's why it's ultimately a branding problem. At its root, a brand is a promise. KFC is a brand that promises finger-lickin'-good chicken; America is a brand that promises life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. But unlike KFC, we're not delivering."...

"From Day One, Obama was talking about how we have to think outside of the Beltway box -- how we need to enact positive change in a fresh way," says Siegel + Gale's Alan Siegel. "His brand is about uplift, it's about humanity; he uses the pronoun 'we' so naturally. People knock him for style over substance, but the truth is that he just has a tremendous ability to cut through the noise. He's distilled his brand proposition into a single theme, 'authentic change,' and it has resonated with people both here and abroad."

While change -- the notion of a break with the past -- is central to Obama's brand essence, the other values he incorporates are no less important. "Obama represents a lot of what America stands for, at its best: Diversity, opportunity, community," says Dick Martin. "I don't think it's a coincidence that when asked about his qualifications, he talks about being a community organizer; he's emphasizing that his experience is in bringing people together. I think, strictly from the point of view of changing attitudes towards America around the world, electing him is the most powerful thing we could do. He's the embodiment of the American dream. Having him as president would say to the rest of the world that America has renewed its promise."

1 comment:

MT said...

At its root, a brand is a promise.

A brand is a name, to which people mentally associate true and/or false representations about branded stuff. There's no promise in it, at root or anywhere else from trunk to leaf tip. I suppose a lawyer might say that the branding--as in, physically attaching a logo or trademark to some thing--is sometimes reasonably construable as a promise--e.g. if the brander has attached the logo or trademark also to advertisements with representations ostensibly about that thing; or if the attachment creates an appearance that a thing is a commercial item for sale to the public, and not some untested one-off. But the brand its abstract self a promise at root? Feh!