Convention Shores Up Obama Brand

By Published on .

Joe Erwin Joe Erwin
In previous posts, I've talked about the great job the Barack Obama team did building a brand -- building one of the strongest brands in American political history, I'd venture. Quickly, firmly, nationally. So I haven't been surprised to hear people wonder lately: With the powerful ascendancy and strength of the Obama brand, how could it be that for a period in the last several weeks, we've seen Obama's lead in the polls fall?

The answer lies in the difference between building, maintaining and growing a political brand, as opposed to building a brand for traditional products and services. In politics, your brand is under constant, rabid, laser-focused attack. In politics, the attacks are personal. You're not just brand building, you're brand defending. And while that wasn't as true in the early stages of the primary campaign, it certainly was true in the final primaries that ultimately settled the contest on the Democratic side. Plus, since John McCain's team secured the Republican Party's nomination comparatively early, that campaign could also focus their considerable energies on chipping away at the Obama brand. I believe that's why we've seen the shift in the numbers.

In Denver over these last three nights, however (I am a South Carolina delegate to the convention), excitement for and unification behind this single candidate has been absolutely solidified. Sen. Hillary Clinton over-delivered her support in Tuesday night's speech, and Bill Clinton gave what David Gergen called "the most significant speech he's made since leaving the presidency." There's no question that the "consumers" in Denver are now fully engaged with this brand and ready to be evangelists as they return home Friday morning. With Thursday's speech at Invesco Field, we can look for the Obama brand to grow -- as Democrats work together for their candidate and turn the tables to begin the competitive task of pointing out the weaknesses of Sen. McCain's brand and his candidacy.

Once these conventions are over, the real campaign begins. And then we'll see which brand has been built to last.

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A former chairman of the South Carolina Democratic Party, Joe Erwin is president of Erwin-Penland, a 180-person full-service advertising and marketing agency in Greenville, S.C., that is part of Interpublic Group of Cos.' Hill Holliday Connors Cosmopulos. He has endorsed Barack Obama.
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