Thinking about Brand America!


As Bono said, “Outside is America!”

My friend, Don, asked me about the brand of America two weeks ago and I wanted to take a moment or two to share 3 ideas about the brand of America right now that maybe helps you rethink what you are up to. 

Brand America has taken a few dings: 

Here is my definition of a brand: the accumulation of the positives and negatives that someone encounters when dealing with your brand. 

In that case, the brand of America has taken a few dings over the last few years. 

I remember the first time I traveled abroad when I was around 21 or 22 and someone came up to me and said, “I can tell you are American because of the way that you carry yourself”. That left an impression on me. 

Over the years, I’ve had Japanese men want to shake my hand in Tokyo and I’ve had people all over the world marvel at America. 

But the last few years have been tough for the brand of America as we’ve had a travel ban on Muslims, talked about building a wall, and not led the world during the pandemic. 

These are all hits on our brand. 

Compare them to the shining city on the hill that Reagan talked about…there’s a difference. 

Brand management is tough: 

When I point out the ideas above, I recognize that brand management ain’t easy. 

Brand management starts with an analysis of the brand, building a plan for the brand, and taking actions to make sure that the brand is continually perceived as it should be. 

Right now, the brand of America needs a new plan to push it forward. 

If I’m analyzing it, I recognize that folks don’t trust America the way that they used to and that hurts us. 

If I am thinking of a plan, I’m looking for ways to help people put their trust in us again. 

And, if I am managing that, I’m looking at whether or not we are getting the respect in the world that we have received in the past. 

Brands evolve: 

A brand is a living thing. 

You can change the good interactions or bad interactions at any time with planning, actions, and attention. 

Right now, we are all likely feeling a little unsettled. 

You build that onto the turmoil that we’ve felt over the last decade as we’ve had a financial crisis, recovery, political uncertainty, pandemic, and whatever we are dealing with now. 

The thing about all of this is that your brand will evolve. 

If you go back to the year 2000, the American brand was one thing and when America was faced with a terrorist attack in 2001, the entire world rallied around America. 

In 2008, people were frustrated at America due to the war in Iraq and the financial crisis. 

When Barack Obama won the Nobel Prize in 2009, that was a time when folks had a bit more hope in the brand of America. 

Right now, our brand is at a low point due to our failure to deal with the pandemic rationally, our political strife, and the unsettled nature of the lead-up to our election. 

None of this is permanent. 

What we have to do is recognize that this can all change and move. 

What we need to do is manage it and adjust ourselves to point ourselves in the direction that we want to go next. 

I’m not sure if any of this makes sense, but Don asked…and I didn’t have a good answer. 


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