• About Tom Dougherty

    Tom Dougherty CEO, Stealing Share

    Tom Dougherty is the President and CEO of Stealing Share, Inc., and has helped national and global brands such as Lexus, IKEA and Tide steal market share over his 25-year career.

    An often-quoted source on business and brands, he has been featured recently by the New York Times and CNN, discussing topics ranging from television to Apple to airlines.

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The Hillary Clinton email issue

I’m not taking political sides here but I thought it was worthy of a look at the recent news that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has bigger issues than just the fact that she used a personal email account when serving as Secretary of State.

There is almost always some uncomfortable moments for candidates with disclosure issues. Imagine for just a moment the amount of problems we would all face if everything we ever wrote on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ or a comment on an article or blog became news. The sort of scrutiny that political candidates face would cause anyone to pause and wonder if the microscopic vetting is worth the prize?

Hillary Clinton email
Hillary must be careful here.

I know that some of the content of my blogs would alienate many and quite probably prohibit me from public office. So be it. I am a private citizen whose expertise is on branding and I have never coveted a career in government.

But the brand stakes are very high with someone named Clinton. I have no doubt that she will win the Democratic nomination as it feels as if no other viable candidates are surfacing. That could change, but right now the Hillary Clinton email issue doesn’t look like it will prevent that.

But the goal for any Presidential hopeful is not winning the party nomination. It is winning the Presidency – and this is where it gets tricky for Hillary.

Jeb Busch can legitimately manage his connection to his famous brother and father. He is playing the game as his own man and not on the legacy of his family. But that freedom of connection would not work well if the candidate was Laura Bush and not Jeb. As a spouse who was always seen as standing by his or her spouse and would not be given the brand permission to turn a back on the spouse’s legacy without declining in the affection of the electorate.

The Hillary Clinton email issue and Bill Clinton

Now, most loved Bill Clinton. In the words of one of my dyed-in-the-wool Republican friends said, “He might have been a scoundrel, but he was OUR scoundrel. I voted for him twice.”

But Bill carried baggage, shared that baggage with Hillary and now she has to manage all of those suitcases as she attempts to enter the door of candidacy. Let’s face it. Being a Clinton has many positives but many negatives as well.

Those that want to see Hillary in a brand new light saw that light darken in the past few weeks. I don’t really think the email issue was a desire to hide Benghazi issues but I think it was simply a Clinton issue— rules don’t apply to Clintons.

Hillary Clinton email. There's a brand equity - both good and bad - with being a Clinton.
There’s a brand equity – both good and bad – with being a Clinton.

What came pouring back in my brand view was that Clinton candidacies are complicated. They have strings attached and bumps in the road. The question the candidate Clinton needs to ask is how do you manage my brand? What can it afford to weather and what does the brand have permission to be? In today’s political climate, the Clinton brand can’t afford missteps because they are all magnified by the electorates less than spectacular memory.

As a political insider and a savvy politician, Hillary needed to know better. Do we believe she had no further political ambitions when she was Secretary of State? If she did, this is just another example of poor choices and bending of rules. Clinton’s can’t afford to stir the pot that much.

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