It’s startling to see how powerful, established brands can make such enormous mistakes that loyal customers begin to doubt and leave them. Usually, they forget to stay in touch with their customers and/or fail to execute on what these customers expect of them.
Wal-Mart is a trusted brand that sells good stuff at low prices to solid middle Americans. When it marched into fancy, high fashion clothes, staged paid PR stunts by supposedly authentic people and appeared to treat its workers poorly, Wal-Mart’s brand became tarnished. Just what does Wal-Mart stand for today? I don’t know.
Airbus built its reputation as a high-tech European alternative to Boeing’s near-monopy on commercial jets. Airbus built planes on time that passengers found very comfortable at a competitive price. Now Airbus can’t finish its giant new double-decker jetliner, the A380, on time because it can’t get the wiring right. Seems like the Germans and French use different software systems. Yikes. A two year delay in the delivery of the 380 led Fedex to cancel its order and other freight and passenger airlines may follow. This is a body blow to the Airbus brand.
The GOP brand once stood for small government, fiscal integrity, business-like execution and a strong foreign policy that projected US influence around the world. In recent years the size of the federal government has ballooned, a budget surplus has turned into a chronic deficit (to be sure, not nearly as big as many predicted), and the performance in New Orleans post-Katrina and Iraq post-victory has been poor beyond belief. The reputation of the US has plummeted overseas. Cronyism, corruption and personal scandals plague the party. So what does the brand now stand for?
Of course, the Democrats have a brand problem as well. Being the “non-Republican” may have got them the House and perhaps the Senate. But there is vast uncertainty as to what the Democrats really stand for these days. Unless Democrats rebrand themselves strongly before 08, a backlash against the current bashlash may result in the return of the political status quo.
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