It has become a widely accepted reality that American presidents are reelected for no other reason than positive performance of the American economy. You needn’t look further than the last 32 years to see pocketbook voting is the most constant factor in deciding an election or reelection. At the end of Jimmy Carter’s reign, stagflation and high gas prices assured his rejection, overshadowing any accomplishments he may have made along the way. Reagan is fondly remembered—even worshiped by some—for the economic prosperity of the eighties, yet nobody seems to remember the words “Iran-Contra”, or “Trickle Down Theory.” Bush senior was voted off because America’s last recession occurred during his first and only term, and, like Reagan, Bill Clinton today is primarily revered because the tech-boom.
Cut to the present—a recession looms on the horizon. Experts say a recovery from the mortgage crisis is far, far off, and the notion that we are years away from anything resembling the salad days of the Clinton or Reagan administration is widely accepted. Unless the next president has divine powers, he/she will be powerless in stopping the economic tsunami headed our way, and reelection for second term will not occur. Short of divinity, he/she will also find ending hostility in the Middle East an equally daunting task. So what’s left for our next president to accomplish? Restore the American brand, that’s what. You’d be hard pressed to find a liberal, conservative or independent American citizen that would not agree the current president has left the American brand in shambles—his low domestic approval rating is continual proof if this, but what about approval of the America overseas? If America were a tennis shoe manufacturer, it would be British Knights, as in, people stopped wearing them long ago.
The branding of the Barack Obama presidential campaign would indicate understanding of this idea. In a recent Newsweek interview, graphic design guru Michael Beirut breaks down the Obama campaign, comparing its branding philosophy to that of Target, Apple, and Volkswagen, naming “those three brands as ones that share a lot with the way this candidate is presenting himself. They’re meant to look transparent, open, accessible and democratic to a certain degree. Non-intimidating,”— characteristics few can apply to the current commander-in-chief. Beruit goes on to explain how Obama’s underlying principles that emphasize change and campaign slogans—A Coalition of Change—are incorporated into the graphic design of the Obama brand, citing that the “ specific choices are also made in really good taste and I’d say to certain degree they also philosophically align with what his position is.” Essentially, the Obama brand seeks to repair, and modernize the presidential brand in the same manner of Apple, for example, redefined computer-branding philosophy.
Perhaps Barack Obama, if he becomes president, can reinvent the American president in the eyes of the rest of the world. 4 years certainly is enough time to make America the “Nike” of countries once again. It took Apple, by virtue of its shrewd advertising, product design, and branding philosophy, less than 4 years to raise itself from the ashes. America is, after all, nothing more than a large corporation that is no longer chic. Popularity of the American brand pays astronomical monetary dividends—one needn’t look further than Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez threats to denominate Venezuela’s oil market with Euros instead of dollars as proof of this. If this comes to fruition, vast sums of money will be lost because of one country’s disapproval of the American product. If Obama gets elected and does return the American Brand to universal favor via expansion of the Obama brand design and overall image, don’t expect him to be reelected, as rekindled offshore America-loving, sadly, can’t save our recession and debt crunch, will it allow Obama a second term.