Fast Company in its April issue has a terrific article by Ellen McGirt on “The Brand Called Obama” that is must reading for anyone in personal branding regardless of your political persuasion. The article talks about how Obama has created an open, inclusive brand that reflects his statement, “We are the change that we seek.”
While all candidates try to get the electorate involved and enthusiastic about their campaign, Obama more than any other candidate has used Web 2.0 tools to embolden and enable supporters to get involved. McGirt details:
“BarackObama.com features constant updates, videos, photos, ringtones, widgets, and events to give supporters a reason to come back to the site. On my barackobabma.com, the campaigns’s quasi-social network, Obamanicas can create their own blogs around platform issues, send policty recommendations directly to the campaign, set up their own mini fund-raising site, organize an event, even use a phone-bank widget to get call lists and scripts to tele-canvass from home.”
The Obama campaign has created an openness and trust online that politicians can spend years to obtain thanks to the site’s interactivity and feedback. The article goes on to explain that people feel they know who Obama is and feel trusted to share their views. In return they get constant feedback from the campaign and each other.
In contract, Hillary Clinton’s brand has focused more on herself and her experience and what she can do for others, rather than what everyone can do for each other. “Obama, through his inclusive Web site and, yes, his lofty rhetoric, reinforces the notion that everyone is included and that this movement is actually a conversation in which everyone is invited,” says John Quelch, senior associate dean at Harvard Business School and coauthor of Greater Good: How Good Marketing Makes for Better Deomocracy.
The Obama brand is a lesson in leadership and vision. His “Yes we can” slogan invites everyone to be part of the change. Ultimately, his brand is so effective since it engages rather than preaches. Obviously, none of us is running for president and most of us will never be political candidates. Yet, Obama’s ability to engage and tap in into the energy, wisdom and enthusiasm of the crowd is something that all of us should think about aspiring to in our personal brands. I know I am going to start thinking about ways that I can make my personal brand more inclusive and interactive. Job One is redoing my ancient website. What are you doing – or plan to do to make your brand resonate more with your target market? I’d love to hear from you.