One week later, the Big Branding Story from the election is so obvious its not worth much more ink.  Even more than the branding disparity between Clinton and Bush in 1992 (“It’s the economy stupid” vs. a mish-mash of who-knows-what), McCain’s pathetic use of Brand Harmony gave the hyper-clear Obama story lots of room to take root.  (For more, see the New York Times Magazine story on October 26, “The Making (and Remaking) of McCain)

So, let’s not waste more time on the obvious.  Instead, let’s focus on what we can learn from it.  I see hundreds of executives every year in workshops, where I ask them to evaluate their brand stories.  I can’t tell you how underwhelmed I usually am. Is there a more important question for a business than, “What do you want your customers to believe about you?”  Well, my empirical evidence shows that most brand stories are as loose as that of 2008 McCain or 1992 G.H.W. Bush.

So, no matter who you voted for (i.e., does this situation make you gloat or vomit), I encourage you to see the power of a clear, compelling story, communicated with a fully-integrated sense of Brand Harmony. Your customers’ lives are so busy and crowded, and your customers are so savvy and discerning, that you can’t not create powerful relationships with them without a solid brand story.

To paraphrase the Clinton campaign in 1992: “It’s the story, stupid!”

So, what kind of shape is your brand story in?


  • Jayakumar Hariharan
    Nov 12, 2008 - 02:57 am

    Obama Lessons –
    as perceived from these parts of the world.

    1. A brand cannot satisfy everyone
    Too many brands fail because they try to own everyone. Not the Obama brand.

    2. Who REALLY IS your audience? What is their language?
    If the Obama brand did not find and own the “Digital Natives”, HE WOULD PROBABLY NOT HAVE WON…

    3. If you need to EXPLAIN any of your core premises, you have probably lost the game…
    The trick is to be the icon – no explanation needed.

    More of it here:

    Jay, from Bangalore

  • Steve Yastrow
    Nov 12, 2008 - 22:18 pm

    Thanks, Jay. (as always)

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