The Potentially Major Implications of a Damaged Brand- POTUS Edition

I’ve really been on an introspective kick as-of-late to analyze my own personal brand.  What do I excel in, how do others view me and my work.  If you had to describe me in three words, what would they be (besides sassy, fabulous, and amazing). 🙂

The flagship blog for those on their own personal branding voyage is found over at Dan Scawbel’s Personal Branding Blog.  From the obvious to the abstract, Dan tries to walk his readers through maintaining an online presence, engaging with social media, effectively communicating with potential clients and customers, and developing a strong brand of oneself.

Some people can write all this off as aloof naval-gasing, or potentially even self-serving non-sense that’s a huge waste of time.  But really, someone’s personal brand and reputation have exceedingly major implications on most areas of their lives, and especially their careers.

Potentially the best example can again be illustrated through politics.  President Obama was inaugurated with more fan-fare and excitement than any modern president over the past several decades.  I remember election night in center city Philadelphia, and the thousands of people, mostly young people, that flooded Broad Street upon his clinching the electoral college with screaming, excitement, and most importantly, hope.

But less than seven months into his presidency, Obama has left many scratching their heads, wondering where the fiery, effective, transformative man from the campaign has gone. Polls consistently show his favorability falling precipitously, losing support from (obviously) republicans, but democrats and independents as well.

Some argue that this is to be expected seven months into a presidency; that his honeymoon couldn’t, and wouldn’t, last forever– and that is correct to a point.  I believe, however, that his inaction and inability to effectively and quickly fulfill one of the cornerstones of his campaign, meaningful health care reform, has led to a much-damaged brand.

The Obama Brand was perhaps one of the most real, and effective, brands cultivated by any living politician.  We knew what he stood for.  He inspired many Americans.  Today he is mired in a messy legislative process, seemingly unable to push through something a lot of us consider a relatively easy sell, health care reform.

And people are taking notice.  Marc Ambinder, writing for The Atlantic, says:

A White House official conceded today that Obama would have to weather anger from liberals for a while. More worrisome, officials said, was the growing belief that Obama’s brand is being tarnished. A new Pew poll says that voters don’t think Obama is working with Republican leaders, and that a plurality blame Republican leaders. They believe that Obama’s favorability rating declines, largely from independents (and within that group, women), can be reversed if he reminds these voters of the bipartisan instincts in his bones.

John Aravosis of Americablog goes on to comment:

We first saw this during the battle over the DOMA brief. That was not the change we expected. Yet, the White House defended their actions initially, then took some small steps to assuage us, then threw a party. Meanwhile, the Oval Office brain trust missed the damage that was done to Obama’s brand through that craven, cynical process. Obama looked like he dumped his support for LGBT equality, something he proclaimed proudly during the campaign — even more pro-gay than Hillary, he promised us — in order to score some political points. He would have really scored points if he followed through on his promises.

This is amazingly important stuff people.  Millions of Americans will either gain health insurance, or they won’t.  Millions of us with pre-existing conditions that make it impossible to ever receive health insurance on our own will either continue to be discriminated against, or we won’t be.

Now obviously we’re all not making decisions on this large of a scale, but maintaining your personal brand can be a high stakes game– whether it’s for your own life and in your own career– or if it’s for the Leader of the Free World.

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2 responses to “The Potentially Major Implications of a Damaged Brand- POTUS Edition

  1. Hey Jake –

    Thanks for the accolades about my own blog…and I’m really enjoying yours! Your concerns here about branding are right in step with my own, and you make some interesting points about the tarnishing Obama brand. (Now, I’m still trying to give him a break – even with his disappointing lack of pro-LGBT legislation follow-through. I don’t think ANYONE could battle what he’s battling without letting a few balls drop. But your point is a very good one)

    Keep up this good work – I’ll be reading!

    • Thanks! Obama’s inaction on LGBT issues is “disappointing,” in its most charitable reading 🙂

      It’s more frustrating. After the amazing innovation of the campaign, that energy is largely lost. It’s as if the Democrats don’t know what to do with large majorities in both chambers of Congress and the presidency.

      Your blog is in my google reader– can’t wait to see what you have to say next.

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