America: The Brand

November 2nd, 2018

As the election nears and the political attack ads and social media goes into overdrive I can’t help but think about our country’s brand.

Brand equity has two parts:

  • Brand identity, which builds value from who the brand is.
  • Brand utility, which builds from what the brand provides.

Being in marketing and focusing on how to market our client’s products and services, I wanted to take a deeper look at what we expect and need as people.

Our expectations have shifted over time. We expect, no, demand, value. We regularly give advice to our clients that, in a world that is becoming increasingly commoditized, you must invest in why you do what you do. And lead with the value you provide, not what you provide.

What if instead of attacking one another and focusing on the “issues,” we focused on why we care. As “America: the brand,” what intrinsic value do we provide?

Brands are shifting and adapting to this changing world of expectations but as a brand our country hasn’t. At Bozell, we consistently preach about not selling a product or service, but instead authentically integrating into the lives of our customers. Discuss the benefits those products and services provide. Therefore, making it less about the what, and more about the why.

“77% feel a stronger emotional connection to Purpose-driven companies over traditional companies, 79% say they are more loyal and 73% are willing to defend that company.”

-2018 Cone/Porter Novelli Purpose Study

If America was our client, we would encourage them to reconnect with their purpose and the value they provide. People don’t want more issues, we want solutions. America has problems, but we won’t get better, or great, until we begin talking about and debating solutions. Our current political climate has magnified these issues by creating political bias so strong we often aren’t even debating issues with our own opinions. Instead, we spout whatever opinion falls into our party line. “Do you want stricter gun-control laws?” Angry face for no and thumbs up for yes. We are using emotions on issues in a polarizing way to divide, rather than using open-ended questions to start a dialogue, like “if universal healthcare isn’t the solution, what is?”

Most Americans can agree the environment, equality, healthcare and violence are issues. But where are they on the priority list and what are the solutions? Maybe we should start with what are the benefits/value they provide, and then debate solutions. Solutions that “ask not what our country can do for us, but can we do for our country.” (JFK) Solutions that reconnect to our core brand. Solutions that create more union. How? Just like we do with any other brand – with a brainstorm. In a brainstorm, we say there are no bad ideas. So let’s talk ideas. Lots of ideas.

If the U.S. were our client, we would have the real talk about how it has strayed from its mission and values. That it can’t be something it’s not going to fulfill on. Just like all brands, if the brand doesn’t follow through on its promise, consumers complain, boycott or, worse, lose trust. And that is what we are seeing in U.S. politics today.

In our great nation, “we the people” are the why and ideas are our inventory. But we have returned our inventory and are selling shadows, emotions and issues … without a focus on utility and value. We, the people, are losing our brand.

But there is hope, regardless of what side of the aisle you are on, you have a voice. The first step to reconnecting with our brand is to vote and respect each person’s vote, no matter if we agree or not. So, let’s double down on our brand and focus on what we can do to generate conversations and rebuild our brand from the inside out.


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