When he ran for president in 2008, Barack Obama's brand was the gold standard for politics. But now, as his job approval has slumped, his brand has also taken a hit, like Kim Kardashian's after she left hubby Kris Humphries after 72 days.
So what's a president to do? Gary Kaskowitz, author of Brand It Like Barack!, says Obama needs to rebrand himself. But not like the "New Coke."
"If Obama wants to be successful in rehabilitating his brand, he needs to follow the classic brand rehabilitation steps all good marketers will follow when their brand becomes tarnished," the author tells Whispers.
First, Obama has to acknowledge the problem exists. "People are not stupid, and if you deny their reality they will turn on you as a brand," says Kaskowitz.
Second, Obama has to be honest about his plans. "He does not want to be seen as defending himself nor attacking others for the problem. Instead, he wants to remain true to the core values that got him elected originally," Kaskowitz says. [Read: Obama's Re-election Threatened by Sour Mood.]
Third, the president who brought us "hope and change" has to tell voters how he plans to correct the problem in a straightforward way.
And lastly, the Obama team has to remember what got him elected in 2008—standing for something bigger than partisan politics, says Kaskowitz.
"Obama needs to stand for principles that he believes in while simultaneously attacking the obstacles that stand in the way of the vision," Kaskowitz says. "He needs to attack the root causes of this as he and his party sees them and not put the blame on people or parties or vilify industries or types of people. Instead he would be better advised to attack what he thinks these people and parties stand for and propose himself and his ideas as a solution."
But even after rebranding himself, winning or losing may depend on his opponent. "Many marketers are blessed by having poorly marketed competitors," he says.
Meanwhile, he adds, the Republicans are having success rebranding their party as the anti-Obama group. But he says of the political process, "Primaries are tricky because you have to appeal to core groups of influencers to win the primaries but then be able to deftly sell your brand to the mass market."
So who's in the best position branding-wise for an Obama matchup? Mitt Romney, says the author, who explains that the former Massachusetts governor has positioned himself as the seasoned politician with a CEO pedigree.
"He is the best debater among the GOP candidates and the middle part of the party will see this as their best chance of taking on and defeating Obama," Kaskowitz says. "Romney does not stand out on any one particular branding aspect but he does project leadership and willingness to reconsider his prior opinions and I believe that this 'leader/CEO' brand will gain traction among the GOP who is looking for another Reagan."
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