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Barack Obama's Rebranding Plan: Attack, Orate, Repeat - Dorie Clark - Harvard Business Review

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Indeed, incumbency gives Obama a third technique at his disposal: emphasizing the "switching costs" of electing Mitt Romney. The President's branding predicament echoes that of another fast-moving American icon: Facebook. Both gained attention with a flashy "coming out" in 2004 (Obama with his instantly famous Democratic National Convention address that year, and Facebook with its launch and rapid adoption on college campuses). Both generated enormous excitement and a legion of dedicated fans (in 2008, Obama amassed three million donors, and Facebook catapulted to over 100 million users). And both, in recent times, have disappointed the high expectations of their most loyal supporters (Obama with a stagnant economy and accusations that he didn't sufficiently fight for progressive values, and Facebook with its lackluster IPO, tanking stock price, and failure to develop a robust mobile strategy).

So how do you remake the president to endear him to his erstwhile fans? If he wins a second term, aggressive policy moves and a perkier economy will work wonders for his reputation. But in the intervening two months — which will determine whether he gets that opportunity — he may want to embrace the Facebook example. Because, when faced with a credible threat from a well-designed rival (Google+), one of their biggest advantages was the specter of switching costs.

After all, if you've spent years uploading photos, writing witty posts, building your friend list, and curating your life on Facebook, why would you want to go back to square one with another, unproven social network? Similarly, the advantage of political incumbency is that you're a known entity. For voters, switching to Mitt Romney (who has branding challenges of his own), may be a risk they don't want to bear — and that's the "status update" President Obama will be driving home until Election Day.

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