President Obama has clearly embraced the new world of the Presidency 2.0, with his transparency, pop culture appearances, and brand-driven approach. But is his well-publicized image riding for a fall?
I’ve written before about Obama’s brand here on the Executive Resume Branding Blog in Obama: A Rebirth of the Cool and Return to Intelligible Speech At the Top.
Some pundits are saying that Obama’s brand positioning may backfire – people may stop listening.
According to a post last month by Andie Coller at Politico, The Everywhere President,
In the midst of a severe recession, with two wars overseas, a new president is unavoidably going to be at the center of the news universe. Obama has taken this intense public interest to a new level – encouraging a highly personalized, uncommonly intimate presidential image.
As communications strategy, the idea seems to be that Obama is the Oprah of politics: People will buy his policies because he is on the cover. But a personality-driven presidency does have its risks.
Robert Thompson, founding director of the Bleier Center for Television and Popular Culture at Syracuse University, said “He’s trying to metaphorically remove the moat from around the presidency, but that can be a dicey kind of thing. People can be really fickle about this kind of stuff.”
William Arruda, author of Career Distinction: Stand Out By Building Your Brand and founder of the Reach Personal Branding Club, said
Obama is “perhaps the best example of personal branding we have today.” Effective branding is “based in authenticity, and the thing that makes [Obama] so successful and so confident is that he is being who he is.”
But Arruda agreed that relying on the strength of his popular appeal is a gamble Obama may not win.
“There’s a risk because he is so visible; he’s become the face of everything that happens,” he says. Missteps could cost him dearly. “Could it bring his whole brand down? I think that depends on the issue.”
For instance, he said, if Martha Stewart’s stock misdeeds revolved around her personal brand and what she stands for, she may not have been forgiven.
“If we learned that she didn’t know how to make papier-mâché snowflakes, or that none of the recipes were actually hers, or that she stole them from someone else her brand would not have survived.”
So far, I find Obama’s pervasive presence reassuring. And I appreciate his genuineness and authenticity. It’s too early to tell how his brand positioning will affect the presidency, but I like knowing where he is and what he’s up to.
What do you think? Is Obama setting himself up for a fall?