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Brand Obama: Proof is in the Pudding

Brand Obama: Proof is in the Pudding

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Published by: catchardip on Nov 20, 2009
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Brand Obama: Proof is in the pudding

 The

strategically sound campaign developed by David Axelrod and his team to get Barack Obama elected as president culminated on Tuesday with the world seeing the man behind “yes, we can” being sworn into office. Robert Havik, managing director of Switch Branding and Design, maintains this success again demonstrates how strong brands have the power to capture the hearts and minds of consumers, and become a critical factor in determining their “buy-in”…

 Like

the man behind the brand, "Brand Obama" is a relatively young identity, having made its official debut on 10 February 2007. In the exceptionally short period of time since then, the Obama brand has managed to strategically embed itself in the hearts and minds of Americans - and the world.


The identity, created by Sender LLC and Mo/de (two Chicago-based design agencies) was further developed by David Axelrod's team with the ultimate goal of influencing the outcome of the presidential election. While yesterday's inauguration of Barack Obama stands as testament to the power of change, it also demonstrates what an exceptionally strong brand can accomplish. There are numerous factors that influence the creation of a strong brand - factors which Brand Obama clearly understood and capitalised on throughout his campaign.

 The

first of these is, without doubt, that the brand understood its target audience. Not only did the campaign team know the composition of its electorate, they also had a very real insight into the underlying issues that concerned the American people. This enabled them to correctly identify and verbalise the "need for change". By tapping into the aspirations of the electorate, Axelrod's team created a campaign that focused on what people aspire to be, personified in "yes, we can".

 They

similarly convinced voters to go out and vote by targeting certain sectors (like the youth) strategically. Understanding its audience additionally ensured Brand Obama identified with its voters' desire for real change, was open to the way people communicate today (and embraced alternate media), and embodied the need for a new global image.

 All

strong brands also convey a powerful, single-minded message one that is easy to understand and which resonates with the people. The essence of Brand Obama - captured in "yes, we can" and "change we can believe in" - reflected the desires of its target audience and was thus quickly adopted by them.

 In

line with its positioning, team Obama was additionally looking to create an identity that would capture its single-minded message and simultaneously differentiate it from previous presidential campaigns. To this end Sender LLC and Mo/de created the now famous logo that included the USA's flagship colours of red, white and blue, the rising sun (illustrating the dawning of a new day for American politics) and, more subliminally, the reference to the "O" in Obama.


Compared to previous presidential campaigns this identity stood out in that it acted as a standalone visual that depicted what Obama was all about. The team also opted for a sans serif typeface of American origin - Gotham. While this is a very appealing font, it is also a strong one; again embodying key elements of the brand. Not only did team Obama ensure very clear and consistent application of the brand when it came to marketing collateral, it also adapted the branding where appropriate, making it more reflective of specific interest groups it was targeting.

 In

understanding its audience, Brand Obama managed to communicate with its electorate using positive language that spoke directly to them in a way they could personalise, and that appealed to them. The success of the brand's communication campaign was largely based on its mastery and embracing of cutting edge social media from the well designed my.barackobama.com site, to its presence on sites such as Facebook and Flickr.

 The

strength of the relationship with the target audience and the use of the internet also helped the campaign team to secure an unprecedented number of donations from a wide variety of people. This money in turn allowed the Obama team to maintain a strong media presence.

 When

a strong brand truly connects with its audience, they start to identify with it and make it their own. Brand Obama created such a groundswell with its simple and relevant message that, instead of trying to "hard sell" the brand, all that was required was to simply place it in the hands of the people - and let them market it themselves. Among others, this led to the creation of true brand ambassadors who went out and sold the brand to others, and simultaneously developed an ever-increasing stream of viral creations.

 To

create a strong brand requires one to live the brand - that moment of truth when a consumer, having bought into the brand, will actually experience it. Now that Barack Obama has been elected as the 44th president of the USA, he will need to deliver on his brand promise - and prove that "yes, he can". If his brand is to become truly powerful it will need to build on the one aspect it does not yet possess: Longevity.

 While

times to come will no doubt be the start of a very challenging journey, if President Obama continues to "live his brand" as he has been doing for so many years he will not merely become the most influential president to date, but also make an imprint on the world as we know it. In so doing, we remain hopeful that he will inspire other leaders to identify their potential and use this as a force for good in their own countries.

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