Mixed Signals: Revamping the Obama Brand

Mixed Signals is Erin Straza’s weekly musing about marketing miscellany in advertising, branding, and messaging.

It doesn’t take a marketing expert to recognize that elections are made up of carefully crafted messages developed to win the hearts and minds of the voters. This is especially true for our presidential elections.

According to a USA Today article by Susan Page, the messages presidential candidates develop and distribute determine their election fate. Clear, simple messages that promise to fulfill the needs of the voters are most successful.

That’s why Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign message—Hope and Change—was so powerful. Voters understood what he promised, and they wanted what he offered.

And there’s the rub: Obama’s 2008 campaign was so successful that he became synonymous with his brand. It’s now 2012, and that message is old news. Polls show that voters are no longer sure President Obama can deliver on his brand promise. So unless he successfully rebrands himself, he will lose the next election.

But I’m wondering, is the 2008 brand really the problem? Or is the real problem our unrealistic expectation of those serving in political leadership?

Our consumerist mentality at the polls converts the voting booth to a retail counter where we purchase the product (i.e., the candidate) that offers the benefits we desire. Brand Obama promised Hope and Change—and by golly, we want Hope and Change. Never mind that Obama is a person, a human being, working within the confines of our government structure and in the midst of myriad variables he cannot control.

Expecting our leaders to deliver the life we want when we want it places them in the position only God can fulfill. Only God can promise and make good on the promise for true Hope and Change, for this life and for the next. No elected official is capable of this.

When President Obama unveils his 2012 branding message, as voters, let’s see what he is offering and determine if it is reasonable to expect delivery. As believers, let’s remember that he is human and look to God to provide what our hearts truly long for.

About Erin Straza

Erin Straza (Associate Editor) is a freelance writer, editor, and marketing communications consultant, helping organizations tell their stories in authentic and compelling ways. After a stint in corporate marketing while earning her MBA, Erin taught marketing communications at Illinois Wesleyan and Illinois State. She is crafting her first book, writing from the Illinois flatlands where she lives with her husband, Mike. Find more from Erin at her blog Filling My Patch of Sky and on Twitter @ErinStraza.
E-mail: erin [at] FillingMyPatchOfSky [dot] com
Blog: Filling My Patch of Sky
Twitter: @ErinStraza

  • http://goodokbad.com/ Seth T. Hahne

    Whoever finally realizes the marketing genius of taking up the slogan, “The Better of Two Evils,” will win by a landslide. Almost everyone I talk to wants to vote for the better of two evils. And the great thing about it is that it’s a slogan that a) reusable every election and b) doesn’t raise voter expectations to astronomical heights like Hope/Change did.


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