Friday, April 24, 2015

Branding and Rebranding a Presidential Candidate: the case of Hillary Rodham Clinton

Keywords or Terms: Branding; re-branding; Hillary Clinton; US Secretary of State; White House; Promoting existing awareness; Psyche of voters; Benghazi case; Nationalistic Argument; Executive Emails; Congressional Republicans; Domestic and Global Security; American Exceptionalism; Exercising Political Powers; Monday-morning quarterbacking; and, seven-steps of rebranding campaign message

Yes, Hillary Rodham Clinton is running for the US presidency. This is all so good for the generation of baby boomersespecially the fifty and sixty- something females, who experienced the era of burn the bra; and, have fervently looked forward to a day when an American female will occupy the White House’s oval office. It is not that Hillary’s second try at the race will prove any more infallible than her first; however, her probable chance this time around, while so promising, may still depend on the outcome of voters' perception of  disturbing accusations from the Republican Party: 1) the Benghazi Fiasco; and 2) the use of personal emails for official duties when serving as US Secretary of State. Not that there has been a failure; rather, that unlike other promising candidates in the 2016 field, she seems to be the one to beat. It will be wrong and probably irritating to assume that since she is the front runner, she stands a better chance than the remainder in the field, Democrats or Republican. Here comes the need for Rebranding of her campaign message(s), consequent to her initial effort in 2008; and subsequent to her service to the nation, as a US Secretary of State.

More important than an announcement of a candidacy for the highest office in the land – the media blitz, fund raising, press releases, twitting, campaign tours, early state visitations and leg walk surrounding getting a campaign off the ground – is the need for branding and or rebranding of the candidate’s aspiration, messages, promises and hope. This task is as much important as raising campaign funds, getting the message surrounding the candidature broadcasted, and offering voters, glimpses of policy options or proposals, that the ascendancy to the office of either Mr. or Mrs. President, will offer. Branding or rebranding offers the candidate an opportunity to project an image or logo that the voters can easily identify with and relate to, until the voting day in 2016, and probably, after the swearing into office. Branding and Rebranding are concepts used in marketing to move a product, person or concept, that have surreptitiously moved to every facet or spheres of our lives. While branding involves the overall design and promotion of a product, person, service or concept, rebranding involves repackaging of the image of a service, person, product or person. Either of these efforts are so germane to modern day political campaigns as the legitimacy of a candidacy itself in the gilded age of information dissemination.

You probably saw the “H” and subscript “T” logo flying on your monitor screen or newspaper to launch or relaunch the former US Secretary of State effort to clinch the big prize of American politics. The logo gave the urgency of a change, it revives the dynamism of the proposed candidacy; and in case of Ms. Clinton, offers the chance of repackaging an image and message of re-running for the White House. It furthermore paves the way for a reentry of initial policy options or proposals of the 2008 campaign, that were either shelved, unmet by current administration, or still rather dear or important to the candidacy of Hillary Rodham Clinton for the topmost political position in the land.

Rebranding therefore in the case of 2016 Presidential Campaign of Hillary Rodham Clinton, promotes both the existing awareness of her campaign message(s); and if effectively and consistently done, the opportunity for voters to indoubtedly embrace her position on policy issues and political rhetoric. Rebranding of Ms. Clinton’s political campaign may lead her campaign towards a future in the next eighteen months, converting hearts, souls and mind of the voter, to a political power driven by a larger number of voters, hitherto unexperienced in US Presidential Campaigns, especially among the female members of American population. Hillary Clinton may leap into the White House oval office, despite the hounding of Republicans of what may or may not have happened in Benghazi, on that unfortunate night, if her brand or rebrand, persists in the psychic of the voters, who are ready to give a female an opportunity to hold that cherished veto power of a presidency. The driving forces here, are effectiveness and consistency of deliverance of her brand from the campaign team, that the mention of her candidacy effectively symbolizes a brand of excellence of achievement that voters can identify with, put their support behind, and are ready to give a trial in the oval office.

No matter Congressional Republican’s machination to invite back the former US Secretary of State to give testimony on the umpteenth time regarding whatever happened, or did not happen at Benghazi, Libya, Candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton must neither capitulate or surrender the allure of her meritorious service to the nation. National service is enviable and problematic occasionally, especially when you have no control over all the possible events surrounding your duties, in an executive position. Beyond heroic chauvinism to the more humdrum of the duties of a Secretary of State, the legitimacy of the argument of the impossibility of being able to predict actions of others in far away land or places, is suffice argument in testimony, in this case. Congressional Republicans are inoculated from answering multiple questions, in multiple times, regarding all the bills that were passed, which many of them have truthfully acknowledged, they probably knew very little about, or failed to familiarize themselves, because of the weight of the responsibility of their position; and the human frailty to admonish all errors associated with an office. Benghazi case, is yesterday’s news, today’s, is to explore ways of preventing a repeat of the unfortunate incident or event. To a much more nationalistic argument in testimony before congress, is the recognition of the frailty of human error, painful as it may, and spurning it to the advantage of a Presidential candidacy’s message on a national stage: “It will never happen or repeat itself under a President Hillary Clinton’s watch!”, pronto.

Moreover, the current effort at US State Department is already reflective of the experience of that night; and, the current implemented changes in all US foreign embassies and posts, must stand out as an example of a reflective leader, who learned from probably a painful mistake, because of the splintered nature of all the American Embassies across the globe; and, who is ready to move ahead. In the context of executive leadership, to continue to revisit an old wound or give priority to a belated effort, is creating an unnecessary rebellion against the obvious. American exceptionalism – a strong case of leadership of an effective former US Secretary of State, is an antithesis of intensified hullabaloo from Congressional Republicans regarding actions taken during her tenure.

Presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton has an urgent need to nip the Congressional Republicans’ rebellion in the bud regarding the use of personal emails for executive duties as a US Secretary of State; and or, the issue of the Benghazi, Libya fiasco. She must not cede her position to the new generation of Congressional Republican extremists, whose goal is to stir fear in the hearts of the American voters, that a Presidency of Hillary Rodham Clinton, is a recipe for disaster similar to Benghazi or hold ups, in an electronic emails. Many Congressional Republicans who feel the moral responsibility to question the audacity of the former US Secretary of State during her term in office, enjoy domestic security without having to dirty their hands or being in the fore-front of fighting global terrorism; a feat which Ms. Clinton, in collaboration with other Foreign World’s ministers have had to contend with. The brutal truth is that it is much easier to play Monday morning quarterback, than to actually play the game on the field.

Certainly, Candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton and former US Secretary of State has demonstrated in spirit the acknowledgment of possible errors in Benghazi, Libya. The extremists’ Congressional Republicans assume that Ms. Clinton, having demonstrated the ambition to seek the Office of the Presidency, ought to be hounded all over again. Having achieved merit and demonstrated leadership at US State Department, Republicans now view her run for the Presidency, as an affirmation of her positive credibility to dethrone any one of their impending flag bearer come 2016. While Ms. Clinton suffers the risk of a blow back for her Presidential Campaign if she doesn't fight back at any Congressional hearing, she also has the fortitude and likelihood of receiving tons of sympathy from Americans, if she is able to effectively communicate the risks of the new world order regarding global terrorism; and espouse her preparedness to take on any of the global terrorists, as she wields the power of a US presidency.

Similarly, Ms. Hillary Clinton’s effort in the State Department, has provided collective stability for both national defense and global security, considering the advice and support she provided current Obama’s administration to dethrone some depots in the Middle East during her era as US Secretary of State. Many European leaders, including the Russians, have explicitly acknowledged the brilliance of her service; and the messy aftermath of the Arab Spring, is a recognition that all was not well with some governments in the Middle East, that served with implicit support or corroboration of former America’s Presidential Administrations; and, there was an overdue need for change in leadership among some unrepentant despots of the region. Moreover, Ms. Hillary Clinton enjoy huge respect and recognition from many global leaders; and, would maintain many alliances that have bolstered global stability since her exit from the Office of US Secretary of State, if elected the first female President of the United States. While not over-zealously trying to impart a degree of precision of what is probable in a Hillary Rodham Clinton’s Presidency, it is safe to say that her experience as a Secretary of State will only serve the nation better, if she is the occupant of the oval office come 2016; at least better than what one can say for current slate of candidates aspiring for that office this time around.

Given that Ms. Hillary Rodham Clinton’s candidacy for the US Presidency seems to be unwelcome by some radical Republicans in Congress, her campaign team must now remain in constant engagement with the American voters over the next eighteen months. The Hillary Clinton’s Campaign Manager’s task must include branding and re-branding of her campaign messages. With no exceptions, campaign messages fanned out must be engaging for her supporters; and, communication with them must be proactive. The undecided voters must be brought around, by complete interaction and immersion in the hope and promises of the first female President of the United States. Hiccups on the campaign trail must not be allowed to spun out of control; that is why, a very close knit shift and clamp down of any unauthorized message from the campaign, must be closely monitored. The unconfirmed or misguided campaign messages that have often torpedoed  other campaigns, must be closely scrutinized. The ‘haters’ or antagonists, those who are completely anti-Hillary Clinton’s candidacy may remain, but must not overtly be seen as lost causes. Thus, the practicality of adopting the seven stages of rebranding, to attempt to woo, even if only ten percent of this group of naysayers.

The precise architecture of the seven steps may take the following format: 1) Influence and shape Hillary Clinton’s campaign message with a series of practical policies and pragmatic programs that address the concerns of some in this group – ask for those characteristics and qualities in Hillary Clinton, that is a turn-off for these antagonists – ask if they may support some initiatives of the campaign and insist that they provide answers to what they want or expect of Hillary Clinton as a Presidential Candidate; 2) Obtain feedback from community contact groups that are doing leg walk on behalf of the campaign – phone calls, online surveys and email surveys of what the supporters are finding out during interactions with their neighbors and why some are holding back support for the Secretary’s candidacy, will be an eye-opener; 3) find out quickly what is not working with Candidate Clinton’s campaign messages – part of your effort is to connect to all voters, not necessarily your initially targeted group; change and reconfigure your message to connect to the emotions of the voters and brand your message to covet the favor of those hard to please; 4) Develop a story – let your campaign message tell a story about a female who has been close to power, asserted executive power and stood at the cross-road of history, when it was necessary to bring down one of America’s number one enemy – reflect not only on her work ethics, but also her motherly and grand motherly love; 5) explore and permeate the Hillary Clinton’s campaign message brand over multiple dissemination platforms, including word of mouth, emails, twitter account, social media, website, radio and television, 6) consistently pound your campaign message, advancing far-reaching initiative of bringing more supporters to carry over the promises of the Hillary Clinton brand; including adopting coherent campaign standard of wooing prospective supporters and building a bridge to the not so much supportive voters; and, 7) Be consistent and never second guess your efforts or the secretary’s intention, in offering some words in an impromptu interview, with some unknown media. Stay focused and determined to win the election.

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