Brand of America
Tom Dougherty, CEO – Stealing Share
8 December 2015
The American Brand
As I think about the American brand, my heart is heavy today.
I am a brand guy, which means I spend my life toiling over the brands that influence my purchasing decisions. If I am not reflecting on my experience, I am placing myself in the lives of others. I consider what drives them to make distinct brand choices. This is my career. It’s what motivates me. It compels me to move forward.
The world we live is a curious place. It’s filled with facets and brilliance. It’s a seesaw of duality: simplicity and complexity, anxiety and peace, wisdom and insecurity. It’s a delicate balance.
With a sense of wonder and fear, I look to our majestic country and ask, “Are we still on course?”
What is the American brand?
The question is, “What is the American brand?,” especially as we learn more and more details of the latest mass shooting and the the divisive nature of our country is accentuated.
I once had refined thoughts about this. The American brand meant we lived in a place where a guy like me, who once barely had two cents to pay for an electric bill —only to later own a successful branding agency.
The American brand stood for promise and its fruition.
These days I just don’t know. Our country seems to be a hateful place of blame and fear. I worry for my children and their children. These are the thoughts of any parent, but nowadays then seem a little more legitimate.
Who will wield a weapon tomorrow? Where? When? How many next time? As David Crosby cried out at the end of Neil Young’s,“Ohio,” “How many more? Why? Why” How many?”
As America heals its wounds and we consider the American brand, I’m reminded of a common branding misconception. I once wrote that, “Brand is about the customer. How else will they be able to see themselves in the brand and covet being a part of it if it doesn’t say something about them? It’s more powerful to say, for example, that your customers are innovators rather than saying “you,” the company, is the innovator.”
The American brand is about us. What we make of it is entirely our choice.
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