2010 has not, so far, been a good one for US President Barack Obama. Democratic defeat in a number of key Senate elections, teamed with a failure to push through promised healthcare reforms and – in its wake – somewhat panicked moves to pick a fight with the banking industry, has left the casual observer wondering if (heaven forbid), the star of Brand Obama is starting to wane?
Following what was undoubtedly one of the most powerful political campaigns of all time, Brand Obama was faced with the issue of reconciling Obama the man, with Obama leader of the Democratic party.
This is by no means exclusive to the world of politics. Many successful brands in the commercial world are headed up by controversial / inspiring / intriguing leaders. Think Virgin’s Sir Richard Branson, Jimmy Choo’s Tamara Mellon, or Apple’s Steve Jobs , all of whom have unashamedly used considerable resource establishing their personal profile (and in doing so, their business’s) amongst the general public.
The secret is that they know – just as President Obama does – that often, our fascination with the leader of an organisation goes a long way toward our engagement with the brand. The PR for these individuals is just as important as the PR for the brand itself. They are the living, breathing representatives of the brand or organisation they represent.
As influential business blogger Dave Saunders notes, establishing your personal brand and exposing an authentic personality is something anyone can do and can help to increase sales and retain existing business.
Any well-established and high-profile business or political leader can survive the criticism thrown at them if / when a brand fails to live up to the public’s expectations if they themselves are well liked or respected. Bad press may result in the public feeling disenfranchised for a time, however, they are infinitely more likely to forgive the friendly face of Sir Richard than that of the Chairman of Easyjet…. Mr ahhh… Whatisname…?
So, President Obama will undoubtedly survive the criticisms launched at him over the past few months. His personal brand is strong enough to withstand failing to achieve anything on the political front – at least for another year or so.