Search results for “faith”

Brand personality and brand Obama

Let’s see.  Eighteen months ago President Obama’s public approval ratings are through the roof.  Today, not so much.

What happened?

Others have written about policy, the economy, and the politics of it all.  I wonder about how all that can be viewed from the perspective of brand.  So I combed through the files and pulled up a structure from our friends at Leo Burnette.

Burnette’s brand structure is simple.  There are three components:  brand personality, brand promise, and brand essence.  The brand personality is the part that helps a person ‘relate’ to the brand.  That is, it is what led to those hideous questions in focus groups like, “if Dove soap were a famous person, what type of famous person would that be?”

Then there’s the brand promise.  The brand promise is the value statement.  Ir addresses the specific thing that the brand will do for you.  It is the ‘what is in it for me’  part of the brand.  Most often this is captured in the tagline.  I buy a BMW and I get the ultimate driving machine.  I buy Panasonic and I am one a step ahead.  I drink a Coke and get the real thing.

And yes.  Most brands don’t actually keep their promises.

Finally there is brand essence.  That is the emotional thing.  It is the Disney magic.  It is the Nieman Marcus return policy.  The service at a Ritz Carlton.  The reliability of a Honda.  This is the hardest one to pull off because it is supposed what people ‘feel’ when they interact with the brand.

Let’s apply them to brand Obama.  First, the brand promise.  It is a good place to start because, by definition, a political figure’s brand promise is not going to appeal to everyone.  It is the reason we have Republicans and Democrats.  Delivering on his brand promise — which President Obama reminds people that he is doing — is not just something people won’t relate to (a common problem among package and service brands) but is something that Republicans will hate.

Now let’s go to the brand personality.  Seems that the Obama brand personality seems to be rubbing Democrats the wrong way.  What once was the everyman presidency is now being seen by many liberal Democratic activists as effete, elitist, and arrogant.

Which leave us with the brand essence.  The emotional element.  And there the brand Obama has serious competitive and circumstantial challenges.  It is hard to keep excitement about “hope” when employment flirts with double digits and every morning you click on the Dow Jones to see if your retirement fund is still there.  (Not that any President can do much about it …)

My read is that it is the brand personality that has suffered most and is the key to brand Obama’s revival.  The President can’t change who he is – a Democrat – and therefore the promise is set.  Nor can the President do much to change the macro picture of two wars and an economy that daily veers drunkenly on the knife’s edge of a cataclysmic abyss.

But by most people’s read, there is work to be done on how people relate to him as a person.  The personality of his brand that was built on a certain populism.  An appeal to a ‘higher calling’.  It wasn’t divisive or bitter.  It was both reasonable and aspirational.

Not an easy thing to do when folks are calling into question just about everything in your life — from where you were born to your faith.

Actions Always Speak Louder Than Words

This being Sunday, I thought a bit of theology combined with brand communication might be in order.

The lesson for this morning:  actions ALWAYS speak louder than words.

This is true in life.  This is true for brands.

A bit of background.

jamesLast Sunday I started on a series of email exchanges with friends on things theological.  What prompted the online discussion was a close friends’ bridling at the Pontiff’s message to the Kennedy family following Senator Ted Kennedy’s death.   The discussion took many different twists and turns and involved several people — some you’d recognize — but ended (or last left off at …) in a discussion of faith and works.  The closing observations even included the catchy and often derided “WWJD” or “what would Jesus do” acronym — and this favorably by a theologian of much repute seemingly not given to religious market hoopla.

For the un-initiated, the Christian theological debate over faith vs. works is a lively one.

The proponents of the latter inevitably look to and cite the book of James, a small book tucked away amidst the Pauline epistles.  The author is thought to be the half-brother of Jesus and some believe was written to counter any misperception from Paul’s preaching that good works aren’t important.  (If you’re REALLY interested you can look up “legalism” and “antinomianism“.)

Basically, James says that faith without works is a bunch of hooey.  To prove his point (and my favorite part of the book) James writes in a prose laced with criticism something to the effect of the following:

“If someone is poor, hungry and needs clothes for the family and all you do is give them a smiley face, buck them up with some cheap words of encouragement, slap them on the back and say … ‘don’t worry … be happy.”  Well if you actually think that by doing that you’re really helping that person you’re an idiot.   Well ok.  You’re either an idiot or a hypocrite.  Because your actions always speak louder than your words — words being always cheap and oftentimes wrong (James also has a lot to say about that!).

Want to do something that will really help the poor and the hungry?  How about getting up off your fat, lazy ass and giving people something to eat?  How about dipping into your pocketbook and buying them some clothers?  Stop all the idle, hang-wringing, self-indulgent chit chat.  DO SOMETHING!!!

Or something to that effect.  Perhaps not that strident but I think I’m directionally correct.

Which leads me to the Washington Redskins.

washington_redskinsAccording to reports this week, the Washington Redskins are suing those season ticket holders who are unemployed, desolate, and out-of-luck or who otherwise, because of recent circumstances, can’t fulfill their contractual multi-year, thousands of dollars season ticket obligations.

Based on the reports in the Washington Post, among those being sued by the Redskins are unemployed grandmothers, recently laid-off and divorced moms and dads, as well as those who’ve lost their life savings to illness.

So you sue them.

Somebody should tell the Hogettes that they better keep their day jobs.

Last I knew there was a waiting list for Redskins season tickets.

Times must be really tough.

But not really.

According to Forbes, the Washington Redskins club is the second-most valuable, clocking in at an estimated $1.5 billion in value.  Snyder bought the club for $750 million.  Pretty good return, no?

Someone at the Redskins ought to wake up.  You can play “Hail to the Redskins” as much as you want.  You can market all the maroon and gold memorabilia that you want.  You can rent out players to civic and community events.

But at the end of the day it is what you do that matters.  Who wants to be a brand that sues its fans when they’re down and out?

Actions speak louder than words.

A belated Father’s Day post

The aircraft carrier Midway is docked in San Diego harbor about one mile from where I’m staying. I passed it during my morning run. Across the harbor I saw three other aircraft carriers and assorted navy vessels docked in port. Large, cold, gray, steel structures. All awaiting sea duty.

And as I passed by on a hot morning in Southern California a handful of stray thoughts came together.

  • I thought of my father who spent a third of his life in the Navy and a good part of that at sea.
  • I remembered my children calling me last Sunday to wish me a Happy Father’s Day. How great that was. How proud I was of them. And how unfortunate that there was no one for me to call.
  • I thought of the news of Tim Russert’s passing and the interviews his son gave over the weekend. I thought of Russert’s book about his father and my repeated threats (any meager attempts) to write a similar book about my dad, Jerald E. Johnson.

So here’s a belated tribute to my father for Father’s Day. You can see him here. It is my favorite picture. He’d been at sea for I don’t know how long. A long time. I think 9 months was standard back then. He just got news that he was going home. Going home to see his cherished wife and growing family. He asked his buddy to take a picture. It was over a hundred degrees below deck somewhere in the mid-Pacific. But captured in that singular moment is a man so happy, so joyous, so excited, that no amount of physical pain or discomfort mattered. He was going home.

By any modern-day objective standard, my father was not a great man. He didn’t amass large amounts of money. He didn’t end up in history books. He won’t be known for holding records or achieving breakthroughs. There were no television cameras at his funeral. He was wise but didn’t claim any towering intellect or superior skill. He had no 15 minutes of fame.

But by human standards — by personal standards — he was an impressive and influential figure. He was a man of superior integrity and character. He believed in the value of honesty, decency and hard work. He was a man completely in love and dedicated to his wife, Joyce (he confided in me often that he loved Mom so intensely he couldn’t imagine life without her). He was a Christian who combined an intense faith with even more intense love and compassion. He was kind, loving and generous. But he also believed in asking tough questions and challenging foolishness. He made people think. Finally, he was humble and genuinely more interested in others than himself. (That alone would disqualify him from modern day concept of “greatness.”)

I say with full confidence and strength of character that I — and most others — would do well if we only were to come close to the standards of character, commitment, and compassion that Jerald E Johnson set for me and my family.

What does any of this have to do with ideas, issues, and brands?

Perhaps this.

Perhaps we should think twice about our obsession with youth. Perhaps we should reconsider and reignite a respect for ancestors. Perhaps we should second guess our mistaking celebrities for heroes.

Perhaps we should put more value in character than we do in accomplishment.

So thanks, Dad.

Happy (belated) Father’s Day.

I will always love you.