Came across an interesting article from Fast Company Magazine on “The Brand Called Obama.”


  • The fact that Obama has taken what we thought we knew about politics and turned it into a different game for a different generation is no longer news. What has hardly been examined is the degree to which his success indicates a seismic shift on the business horizon as well. Politics, after all, is about marketing — about projecting and selling an image, stoking aspirations, moving people to identify, evangelize, and consume. The promotion of the brand called Obama is a case study of where the American marketplace — and, potentially, the global one — is moving. His openness to the way consumers today communicate with one another, his recognition of their desire for authentic “products,” and his understanding of the need for a new global image — all are valuable signals for marketers everywhere.
  • “Barack Obama is three things you want in a brand,” says Keith Reinhard, chairman emeritus of DDB Worldwide. “New, different, and attractive. That’s as good as it gets.” Obama has his greatest strength among the young, roughly 18 to 29 years old, that advertisers covet, the cohort known as millennials — who will outnumber the baby boomers by 2010. They are black, white, yellow, and various shades of brown, but what they share — new media, online social networks, a distaste for top-down sales pitches — connects them more than traditional barriers, such as ethnicity, divide them. Read More Here.

It is quite a hefty write-up, so if you don’t have time.. at least take a look at these pointers on “How to Build a Brand Like Obama”

1. Lose Control

Traditional top-down messages don’t often work in an ecosystem, like the Web, where the masses are in charge. Marketers must cede a certain degree of control over their brands. And that can be terrifying. (Remember that “I got a crush on . . . Obama” lip synched YouTube tribute? When people can affect a brand, they become attached to it.)

2. Embrace the Modern Internet

Brack Obama’s campaign has been successful at converting online clicks into real-world currency: rallies in the heartland, videos on YouTube, and most important, donations and votes. features constant updates, videos, photos, ringtones, widgets, and events to give supporters a reason to come back to the site. On, the campaign’s quasi-social network, Obamaniacs can create their own blogs around platform issues, send policy recommendations directly to the campaign, set up their own mini fund-raising site, organize an event, even use a phone-bank widget to get call lists and scripts to tele-canvass from home.

3. Cast a Wide Social Net

The Obama crew also tapped into other online communities. A member of, one of Community Connect Inc’s suite of niche demographic Web sites (including,,, and excerpted a portion of a Vibe magazine profile of Obama. A flurry of discussion drove traffic to, drawing the attention of Scott Goodstein, who runs the campaign’s external Web strategy. An exec at CCI invited all the candidates to create profiles for each of the company’s targeted communities. Only the Obama people created credible presences, updating them everyday or so.. It worked. The Obama profile on Black-Planet has more than 450,000 “friends.”

4. Let Fans Be Real

Obama’s campaign also took advantage of messages created by others. The “Yes We Can” mashup by the Black Eyed Peas’, starring a handful of his famous friends, cost the campaign nothing and became a viral hit. By comparison, a Clinton mockumentary called “Hillary’s Leaving the Band” — young rockers, clearly actors, lament the loss of their favorite guitar player — fell flat. It seemed ad-agency slick and forced. And if it doesn’t resonate in the offline world, it won’t resonate in the online world. The Web has created authoritative consumers empowered by the Web and they can smell a fake.

5. Be Open (But Not Totally)

“OPEN brand,” an acronym for on-demand, personal, engaging, and networks, is a framework for companies to think about distributing brand messages in new ways. Being an OPEN brand can be daunting, but you don’t have to cede all control, just some. Obama has been made available to the press in strictly controlled doses. And while the Web site may have set the bar high in terms of openness, the campaign still keeps an eye on the imagery and messaging associated with the movement. Obama’s e-mails urging supporters to take action — “Tell the superdelegates what’s on your mind,” a recent blast implored — are often signed simply “Barack,” implying intimacy without risking exposure.

6. Lead, Don’t Boss Around

Obama is seen as a leader rather than a boss. He gets people to do things on their own, through inspiration, respect, and trust — rather than doing it because it’s part of a contract. Having a vision and inspiring or instructing others to follow that vision have long been hallmarks of business and politics. But Obama epitomizes a new way of thinking called “adaptive leadership.” While a visionary puts forth a specific plan to be implemented, an adaptive leader works with constituents to devise one together. Obama has tapped into this adaptive-leadership vein by inviting voters in with his “Yes we can” slogan.

. . don’t burn the day. .