Brand USA needs some work

It’s easy for Washington’s attention to be on all of the big, ugly problems that face the United States because there are so many: the War in Iraq, the tanking economy, the War in Afghanistan, the energy prices, Korea, and Social Security.

However, there’s a bigger problem that needs their attention, and fixing this critical problem will help with all of those other problems.  We need to fix America’s brand – Brand USA.

It’s basic Marketing 101 that a company cannot succeed without a strong brand. Smart companies know that the integrity of their brand is the foundation of the strength of the organization. And companies know if the brand is in trouble, there’s trouble around every corner.

With this in mind let’s look at a short list of the big concerns that face our country. Iraq is a good place to start. Do Iraqis trust Americans? No. Iraqi people hate Americans and they hate our country. We cannot even offer them assistance without putting ourselves in harm’s way. But they don’t hate us as people; they don’t know us. They hate our brand.

The economy is in a dive. Investors don’t know where to invest because they don’t think things are going to improve. Businesses don’t want to expand because they don’t think there’s any growth potential. People don’t want to spend any money because they don’t have confidence their job is safe. It’s a nasty cycle that’s spiraling down. The poor outlook for our economy causes ripple effects on the world’s economy.  What’s going to get people wanting to buy more things to ignite our consumer-based economy? Consumers don’t tend to react to rational things like an interest rate drop or a bailout plan. Those are only going to affect corporations and accountants. But they are too cold and abstract to instill confidence in Americans. American consumers react to emotional things like the hope of the American dream, the story of an everyday American hero, and the handshake from a next-door neighbor. These are the images of the Brand USA that need to be part of the plan for economic recovery.

John Kennedy surprised many with these simple words: “…this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before the decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to Earth.”  Many thought that it was impossible and crazy, certainly in the timeframe allotted. But Kennedy’s leadership, inspiration, and confidence created inspiration and self-confidence in the American people. In turn, Kennedy boosted Brand USA. He motivated Americans by challenging the country to get behind the effort and to make it happen. It was the power of Brand USA that motivated the entire movement.

According to a study by FutureBrand (a global brand consulting firm), USA dropped one position to 4th place in the Country Brand Index, a study that measures countries with the best brand reputations. From USA Today.

Many people say that President Obama is making strides toward improving public diplomacy – another way of saying building a positive Brand USA. To give fair representation, John McCain promised if elected he would bring back the US Information Agency, focused on international PR efforts with Voice of America and Radio Free Europe. This function is currently a low-priority function of the State Department. Obama offers many opportunities to spread Brand USA, but the country’s PR effort must get a higher priority. The Christian Science Monitor reports, “The National Defense Authorization Act of 2009 requires that the president issue a new comprehensive strategy by December to guide interagency efforts on public diplomacy. It cannot come too soon.” In referring to one of Obama’s recent speeches, the article says, “public diplomacy cannot be a one-shot affair with a presidential speech. It demands follow-up, amplification, and explanation. Foreign audiences need interpretation of US government policies, and insight into the American way of life and love of freedom.”

Brand USA has the potential to do powerful things. We could develop alternative energy sources — having a big effect on our economy and on global warming. We could establish credibility with countries that have grown skeptical of the US over the years. We could reestablish hope in the American people that tomorrow will be brighter. And it all starts with a strong brand – Brand USA. A brand that inspires individuals all over the world again.

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One Response

  1. […] See the rest here: Brand USA needs some work […]

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