The Bain of Obama’s Brand

urlIf everything good about you was eclipsed by someone’s loud voice, if everything you believed was in the shadow of someone else who communicated better – you would be angry. But if anger were the cryponite of your brand – the one thing that if you were, you would never get where you wanted to go?

You would be President Obama. Who got “bained” on the first debate.

The ability to shape shift is a particular gift of Republican candidate Willard Mitt Romney. He has even given up his first name. Not in favor of something better or more endearing or more familiar – or even more reflective of whom his is or wants to be. Mitt is just somewhat better than Willard.

And, what could be better than the caught on tape pronouncement that 48% of Americans are slackers – than saying that 100% of the American people are great? That Medicare is perfect the way it is, but how about vouchers, too? That social programs are great and should be fully funded, but how about doing it at the state level? Like the education budget of people who live in Mississippi is handled at the worst of 50 states, but hey, that’s Mississippi’s domain – isn’t it?

And the only problem that we have is overfunding Big Bird’s habit of educating young children.

How did the first debate debase President Obama’s brand?

Why did he not anticipate that candidate Romney would do what he has always done, which is shift shape when the opportunity presented itself?

Once again, we learn the great lesson of branding. If you cannot express it, you don’t possess it. The outrage, the truth telling, the saying it like it is – was beyond President Obama’s capacity – because he was constrained by his opponent who has been trying to manufacture the President’s brand. The straw man that candidate Romney is running against is angry. “Foreign.” Someone whose birth certificate is apparently forged – just ask Donald Trump.

When you are afraid of how someone else has defined you – that you cannot challenge them. At least not when 60 million people are watching. Yet, it’s when it is the most difficult, it is the most crucial.

President Obama may be the smartest, most decent and successful president we have ever had the good fortune to call our own. But if he cannot argue as well as he can advocate, he will lose this election.

Your brand is what you make it, unless someone debates who you are – and you cede your reputation to them.

Lies – as candidate Romney said on air, during the debate – were something his sons told him over and over.  That was an opportunity, among several during the debate, for President Obama to make the case that they had learned to lie somewhere. But, to do that would be to step into the “angry man” offense that Romney had been setting him up for months.

Sometimes you simply have to choose to challenge the so-called facts and the individual who vociferously is making a case that is simply isn’t true. But when you stake your brand on being likeable, can you stand for not being liked?

Be careful about what your brand means.

Never let someone else define you.  Be careful of the lies you overlook and let go.

You don’t always have another day to undo the damage that someone has done to you. There’s a reason we call venture capitalists, vulture capitalists.

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