A Brand Assessment of the 2008 Presidential Candidates

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I was asked about 50 times to do a brand evaluation of the presidential candidates, but I really can’t voice a strong opinion because I have no interest in politics and haven’t been following the race closely enough to make a full analysis. Brandon Wright was one of the people who asked me and so I asked him to do this guest post because I do feel that it makes sense for The Personal Branding Blog. Brandon Wright is Manager of Communications and a registered lobbyist for the Petroleum Marketers Association of America. You can read his blog at www.brandonwright.wordpress.com.

Branding is about being different. It doesn’t matter if you’re competing for business or votes; it is positioning yourself as the best. For the 2008 presidential candidates it is about standing out from one another. Many candidates use slogans. Hillary Clinton does not have a slogan on her website, www.hillaryclinton.com.

Senator John McCain: Ready to Lead on Day OneJohn McCain Personal Brand

Senator McCain has an incredible life story. He is a war hero having survived captivity as a POW during the Vietnam War. As a Congressman and Senator, McCain developed a reputation for speaking bluntly. His campaign is called the “Straight Talk Express” and his words and actions have earned him the moniker “maverick.” His independent streak appeals to both moderate Republicans and Independent voters.

Senator McCain’s presidential campaign has ebbed and flowed, but the message has remained relatively unchanged. He continues to tout his military and foreign policy experience and position himself as the most qualified candidate ready to lead on Day One. He must overcome a wobbly economy and tepid support of the war in Iraq among general election voters to win in November.

Senator Barack Obama: Change You Can Believe InBarack Obama Personal Brand

Senator Obama is a first-term Senator, but has had a tremendous impact on the 2008 presidential election. From the start, his message of hope and change has resonated with the American people. He has won the previous 11 consecutive democratic primaries, before losing the next three of four. He draws tens of thousands to his rallies and easily fills auditoriums. His speeches are often interrupted with chants of “Yes We Can.”

Obama has drawn a broad coalition of Americans to his campaign that has fought back charges that he is inexperienced and does not have the judgment or discretion to serve as president. Despite all this, he remains the likely Democratic nominee for president. He must continue to demonstrate there is substance to his elegant oratory.

Senator Hillary Clinton

When Senator Clinton announced in 2000 she would run to replace former New York Senator Pat Moynihan, almost immediately she became a presumptive candidate for president in 2008. When she announced her candidacy for president she became the frontrunner and campaigned like one.

Her campaign has struggled lately, losing the previous 11 democratic primaries before winning three of the next four. She has appeared too ambitious and self-serving, and willing to shift positions or not take positions to win votes, the same problem that plagued Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign. Many articles and columns are filled with different reasons for the failure of her campaign. She has campaigned as the candidate with the most experience and the candidate with solutions. Her problems stem from not having a consistent message. She needs to “find her voice” like she did in New Hampshire to win it all.

It’s Game Time

There are approximately 250 days until the general election. Whoever the parties nominate must develop a strong consistent message that conveys strength and also optimism to the American people. Change for the sake of change does not always bring good change, and presidents have succeeded without much time in Washington.