When Bad Brands Collide.

screen-shot-2016-09-15-at-8-08-41-amblog-guyWell, here we are. The big choice. Hillary or Trump? An incredibly important choice between two huge but sadly unpopular brands. Not Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump but ‘Hillary’ and ‘Trump.’ The brands are that precisely defined now and recognizable as such the world over.

Unfortunately behind that exalted status are very low levels of popularity and respect. When the dust settles, it is hard to imagine the losing supporters accepting the other candidate. In fact one could argue that this is about ‘voting against’ more than ‘voting for.’ The popular phrase – ‘I’ll vote for anyone but …”

The stakes are ridiculously high. International and domestic issues have never been more complex or uncertain. The next ‘leader of the free world’ will have less margin for error than any other in history and unless that individual can lead a government that unifies and creates positive momentum for all, then tough times will be the new norm.

Yes, I know someone will find a speech from a hundred years ago that spouts the same gloom and yes, we all survived just fine. Far be it for me to be so learned and profound, but humor me. Let’s play this out.

You are the brand master for Hillary or Trump. Do you take the high road like Obama did and promise love and unity or do you play the anyone-but-the-other card and just hammer the bejesus out of the opposing brand?

My guess is that everyone would prefer to take the high road and tout unity and hope for all. Hal Riney wrote perhaps the sweetest Presidential ‘love’ campaign ever for Ronald Reagan called “Morning in America.” Made you cry.

But then the new media reality pops up and no matter what positive pitch your candidate makes someone will find a grainy clip or dog-eared speech from childhood that will serve to knock your contender right off the high road. And then, well, it’s time to start pointing fingers again and poking at your opponent for their similarly shoddy history.

So Mr. or Mrs. or Mx. Brand Master, how do you help your Hillary or Trump brand win and save the world to boot?

Well here’s a thought. I have not read Trump’s book the Art of the Deal, but I do like the notion of ‘win-win’ that most deal makers support. Who doesn’t? Everyone is happy. What if your candidate announced a radical new approach that made their unpopular aspects dissolve in the bold pursuit of real solutions?

If this was a business, you might entertain the idea of having, not one, but two official Vice Presidents. One dedicated to each of the two biggest problems facing the US and the world – ‘jobs’ and ‘peace’ – with real resources and goals. Yes, you could say that this is just more government, etc. but perhaps by doing this, all voters can start to believe that there is hope for solutions and action? This might soften the blow for Hillary haters or establish a higher level of credibility for Trump haters. And maybe restore some respect for politicians? (Well, maybe that is a bit too optimistic)

Or how about this? What if one of the candidates gets up and announces a new world initiative, called UNOJ, The United Nations of Jobs. It’s not hard to see that the biggest single problem today is people finding jobs. Disenfranchised young people are becoming terrorists. Mature workers are losing out to robots. People, not working grind capitalist countries to a halt and create untold anarchy for the others. What if the new world order’s mantra was ‘jobs for all’ and the UNOJ was legitimate and singularly focused on that one goal? Pollyanna-ish? Of course. Naïve? Certainly. But at least it’s an attempt at changing the narrative from the usual ‘well he/she said this shitty thing about kittens BS’, that just sinks a Presidential brand and turns off voters.

Hey, perhaps Trump can use his famous border wall as the HQ for the UNOJ and change it from a border crossing to a job fair? Or Hillary can use her rich Clinton Foundation as a sponsor?

Ok, so there are my feeble attempts. What thoughts do you have brand wizards?

Can we innovate and provide the American voter with credible hope for the ‘good’ brand America? Or are we now just destined to remain divided, mediocre and lost?

We love this stuff at Rocket Branding. Let us know what you think of a way forward for either brand? ian@rocketbranding.com

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