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Tuesday, November 04, 2008

How Obama's Brand Helped Him To Win The Election

Just a few minutes ago, Barack Obama was officially declared the winner of the Presidential election and my vote in Virginia was officially deemed to mean something for the first time by going for the Democrats as part of Obama's huge victory. Looking back, there were many marketing lessons that any business could learn from Obama's campaign, but perhaps the strongest is the power of having a strong AND shareable brand. Obama's logo and brand identity were consistently used across all his communications, but also treated with a flexibility that would drive many holders of a brand identity completely mad. Instead of taking a closed approach to his brand identity, the Obama campaign let people remix the brand for their own uses.

To take an inside look at the power of this brand, I created two visuals that I believe pretty much tell the story of the power of Brand Obama and how it was used to help him win the US Presidency in a way that is much more powerful than I could ever describe. Check them out below and congratulations to Barack Obama and all his supporters for a big win tonight!

Brandobama_flexiblebrand_2

Brandobama_actionbuttons_2


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Hi Rohit,

Obama's team ran a very tactful and brilliant campaign.

I worked on Capitol Hill 3 years and got sick of politics (and the pay) after 2005, but this was an exciting race to watch unfold.

Great marketing lessons to derive from this campaign.

Dali Burgado

Interesting also to see the various Obama avatars - "Obamatars" - people have been using on Twitter: lots of links on Google.

Anyone have a list of his graphic design talents? Those icons are really spiffy and even if they weren't political, the collection of variations would rank up on my list of exemplaries!

This is also a great demonstration of the power of images in communicating a brand. Not a lot of copy here -just subtle variations on the campaign logo. Very clean, simple and effective.

I think the biggest part of "Brand Obama" is the message of 'Change' that the campaign never strayed from. When the imaging and the message was linked together across so many platforms, you could not help but feel inspired and rejuvenated about Senator Obama and the vision that he has for our Country.

I've been talking with my friends about this since last night and your post nicely sums up the consensus we all reached. Obama's success, in our opinion, was largely the result of a uniform and well-branded political (marketing) campaign.

The logo system they developed just transcends any material that the McCain-Palin team put out and only adds to Obama's existing perceptual advantages.

Rohit, the brand came down to graphic iconongraphy? I have to differ. Seemed more like real branding to me - the relationship with the volunteers and voters [http://tinyurl.com/5gfdnr].

Craig,

Thanks for commenting! Of course I think we can agree that I'm not suggesting a cool icon is what won the election for Obama, and your post delves nicely into the important role that building a relationship certainly had on his success. At the end of the day, this engagement is what inspired people, not a logo. But too often in marketing a great or inspiring message, or even a great relationship with your customers would be lost without a powerful symbol that people can grab and take ownership of. You know this well from your social marketing expertise - would the breast cancer movement be where it is without the pink ribbon? Or the Red campaign without the iconic brand (and color) on all those products? I think part of the reason he was able to build on his relationship with individuals to the point where many of them recruited their friends and family to be part of the movement was by using a powerful brand identity to bring these efforts together. If all he had was that relationship, I would argue that the campaign would have been less powerful. Perhaps he still would have won as its tough to look at things in isolation, but I think his brand and how people internalized and used it on social networks, on blogs, in front of their houses and on t-shirts and stickers around the world to represent their support of him was an important factor in his victory - and an important complement to the strong relationship he built (and continues to build) with his supporters.

Totally agreed, Rohit. While Obama is skilled beyond anyone we've seen at connecting with people and mobilizing grassroots efforts, and while his amazing army of supporters (which I am part of) really made an impact by pounding the pavement and passing the word, there is something so admirable about his business sense, something so awe-inspiring about the consistency of his messaging and brand, that we should all recognize this as not only an emotionally deep and historically inspirational campaign, but also as a Class A Case Study in entrepreneurial branding success.

Obama's logo reminds me of Google's logo in its "sharability" aspect. Both brands have been highly successful. It seems the need to be open and connected with your community is pervading even the details on these brands. Very interesting!

I work from the credo that the relationship is the essence of the brand. Yes, completely agree with a need to consistently use visual (and sonic - theme songs at rallies) signals of the brand. Without getting to Pavlovian, you can ring the bell (or put the images up) as often and where ever you want, but if the dog isn't anticipating food, it won't salivate. People are a bit more complex, but the learning principle remains the same (people see the images and retrieve the emotional and relationship reaction). Brett Swanson's op-ed piece in today's Wall Street Journal also touches on some of these issues.
BUT - the most important thing getting loss in all of this is that Obama got his spurs doing community organizing. He's pushing the curve for using these techniques on a national scale with the new technologies.

Think its the combination of his Long Tail digital strategy coupled together with the old-school "Big Head" approach.
http://ameliatorode.typepad.com/life_moves_pretty_fast/2008/11/the-worlds-first-long-tail-president-albeit-with-a-big-head.html
This is what I mean by that.
Just fascinating!

This marketing campaign was incredible and did an amazing job reaching out to young people and getting supporters to easily and effortlessly donate time and money to the campaign. Making you feel like a major part of the campaign by just clicking on an effort to take part in.

I would love for the marketing team to discuss their campaign strategy with the public, definitely and event worth attending.

This campaign took marketing to another level. The management of the media stressed the importance of reaching voters in new, exciting ways. Obama used several tatics to brand himself, his logo included and more importantly his message for change. The "make your own" logo idea served two purposes involvement of supporters and self-branding technique, both obviously worked. This election tackled a lot of issues including gender, age, race. I think social media would also be included in that list.

This campaign took marketing to another level. The management of the media stressed the importance of reaching voters in new, exciting ways. Obama used several tatics to brand himself, his logo included and more importantly his message for change. The "make your own" logo idea served two purposes involvement of supporters and self-branding technique, both obviously worked. This election tackled a lot of issues including gender, age, race. I think social media would also be included in that list.

If you read more about Obama's great marketing strategy, check out "Marketing Like a Poll Star" at http://web.illish.us/?p=675

If you read more about Obama's great marketing strategy, check out "Marketing Like a Poll Star" at http://web.illish.us/?p=675

I think you gave a clear example of the efficient use of the tools which ones all of us have acces to. The succes it will be, the optimization and the correct use of them.

As I wrote in a recent post http://deborahprblog.wordpress.com/2008/11/11/president-elect-and-wispa/
- Britain approaches the new media revolution with whimsy! In America you get to elect a new President, in the UK, we use new media to vote to bring back a chocolate bar!

Not only did Obama develop a superior brand but he developed a social media organization.........Obama listened to the American and stayed on message.

Obama's brand was a powerhouse. He ran such a tight ship and ran it with a firm and fair hand that rarely ever allowed news leaks from his camp to get out. I find it interesting that they relaxed so much on their branding efforts and allowed for so many different versions of their logo. The Obama brand building effort was surely a sight to behold.

Rohit, it's really amazing to see the range of interpretations of the brand. So varied, yet also so consistent. Thanks for creating these 2 visuals.

Great article! I couldn't agree more with the success of the Obama campaign. You have to also acknowledge that the McCain side laid a rotten egg when it came to his campaign.

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