Thursday, July 31, 2008

McCain: Branding genius

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.



Jay Livingston said...

The "rambling reversal" and lack of consistency and coherence won't shake McCain's core support. Even the less committed "leaners" might let these go ("That's just John being John"). But they might be less forgiving of the defensive, negative attacks, like the latest ad that whines about Obama's celebrity. Mavericks can be inconsistent, but they don't whine and complain.

brandsinger said...

Thanks, Jay. I was being, um, exploratory in my thinking. Being a maverick brand can work (Warhol, Ali, Paris Hilton, Sharpton, et al) but pulling it off requires more brashness and conviction than McCain is able to muster.

Pratiksha Jadhav said...

Great suggestions and some interesting comments to boot.Great brands just say no. They say no to diversions, dilutions and digressions. Thanks for sharing these tips on brand strategy. Brand Harvest creates a brand strategy that supports long term marketing for brand.