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Brand Obama Wins “Marketer of the Year” for a Different Kind of Brand

Written By Dave Wieneke on Dec 15, 2008
See Dave's blog for more at

Illustration by Ward Sutton

My take on brands (which I hope someone will just once call “the Wieneke proposition“) is that brands are vessels that hold the good feelings generated by experiences created by staff or products. The implication is that those experiences have to be placed in front of the brand. Brands don’t create their own love; experiences do.

Typical brand doctrine seeks “consistency and repetition to build identity.” Plenty of brands would defend their marks, even against friendly use, to prevent genericization. OK, political brands are transient, but still I expect the engagement that Obama’s malleable brand has generated will be echoed by more established brands.

Indeed, “trademark holders” may benefit by thinking of themselves more as brand managers. If so, the challenge of managing a brand when it’s in the hands of social advocates will require tools and people skills that go way beyond “cease and desist” letters or filing DMCA takedown notices. Nobody wants legal harassment to be associated with their brands except, apparently, for certain parts of the record industry.

See Dave's blog for more at

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Comment by Keith LaFerriere on December 26, 2008 at 10:13am
My take: There will be plenty of opportunity for the marketing team to use this identity on "special projects", Michelle's work with her own efforts and at fund-raising events for other politicians. More than ever, this presidential campaign took on the online and the offline worlds with full force. Not only did the internet vote play a significant role (including early voter registration and commitment) , but it redefined any future campaigning and created "online" as a task to be assigned, rather than a challenge to be tackled. The brand consistency (meaning: presentation on and offline) was well-executed, regardless of aesthetic criticism.
Comment by Myles Bristowe on December 16, 2008 at 12:59am
Great post Cecil. The "O" has tremendous brand recognition. It would be pretty interesting to see if Obama's logo continues to be recognized at some capacity beyond his inauguration. Although, I suppose the president has his own logo (the eagle on the podium) as well as the presidential jingle when in office.

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