Great brands just say no. They say no to diversions, dilutions and digressions. They say no to any crumb, color or concept that does not fit the brand essence. Great brands have ruthless focus, like BMW which will not make you a suburban family van or Goldman Sachs which deigns not to sully its name by pitching penny stocks at Sam’s Club.
Now, if a great brand has focus, can there be an unpredictable, all-over-the-map maverick as brand? If you can imagine a buttoned-down, business-like Mitt Romney, can there such a thing as a totally off-the-wall loose canon political brand?
The Washington Post – that veritable think-tank of branding lore – announced that John McCain recently rambled through a town hall session “and showed little appreciation for the art of ‘branding.’”
No appreciation for the art of “branding”??? I’m not so sure. John McCain is breaking new ground in the art of branding. His rambling reversals and surprises make him the shock-jock of branding. He is the shake-up-the-bourgeoisie beatnik of branding. He is the take-your-brand-and-shove-it guru of brand strategy. He is the two-by-four-seat-of-the-pants Home Depot plywood department of brand engineering. He is the Heinz catsup of the Tomato Sauce School of Branding.
In short, John McCain is so completely off brand, off message, out of voice, without a coherent strategy, that he’s oddly ON BRAND. His “brand” (yes, in quotes! such a dirty word at the Washington Post) is actually anti-brand. No clear message, no promise, no brand voice… No brand consistency whatsoever. First ever. Sheer genius.
Now, of course, this strategy will result in a crushing loss in November… unless… unless he’s on to something.