Just as businesses rely on their brand recognition and public perception to help improve commercial success, a country’s reputation and global image is a reflection of the strength of its “brand.”
In recent years, while other countries brands have drastically improved, America’s brand has declined. A recent study shows America’s brand index as ranking 7th among all other major, developed nations. In order to improve its global brand recognition, what America needs is an objective audit of “brand America” and new focus on reestablishing the authenticity of the American Promise.
Following the widely accepted principles of what makes a brand strong, brand America must adhere to the same foundational pillars: being relevant and meaningful to a strategic target audience; being competitive and as attractive a solution to meeting the need as alternative options; and being authentic while delivering the expectation set.
A Brand Must be Relevant
The relevancy of brand America is without question. The promise of brand America speaks loudly to the human desire for exerting some control over personal destiny.
Since its inception, the brand America promise has been the opportunity for the pursuit of life, liberty and happiness. Brand America has come to represent a location where anybody has the chance to self-manage his or her destiny, and in the process be rewarded for both hard work and the courage to take smart risks. There are countless examples of entrepreneurs achieving remarkable success based on ingenuity, passion and effort.
“Rags to riches” is the cliché most commonly used to describe the success of Americans, and has served to inspire people around the world to change their destiny. It promises life in America will provide the opportunity needed to achieve their full personal potential.
A Brand Must be Competitive
When compared to other countries on a global scale, the attractiveness of the brand America promise remains strong. More than 1,000,000 immigrants “buy” the promise each year. They are motivated to seek a new life in this country. These immigrants bring optimism, passion and a profound belief that America is the place to raise their children and generations of grandchildren.
A Brand Must be Authentic
As attractive as the America’s brand promise may appear, the country is struggling to truly deliver on the authenticity of its promise. As an example, the current economic challenge is driven, in part, from rewarding transactions that generated no real value and required no real effort. In retrospect, this behavior appears to be in direct conflict with the brand America promise. Earnings without effort and risk-taking without accountability are in stark contrast with the world interpretation of the brand America promise.
This current crisis is not the only example of failing to walk the talk. There has been a measurable decline in America’s brand strength worldwide. Every behavior, policy and practice that is inconsistent with the core promise that success comes from hard work, ingenuity and smart risk tarnishes brand America.
Looking forward, it is naive to think that the strength of brand America can be restored by talking our way out of a position we behaved our way into. Authenticity is about ensuring the brand America promise is delivered day in and day out. Public policy and practice should be evaluated to assess the impact on the strength of brand America. While not the only consideration, the impact (positive or negative) should be understood and weighed as part of the overall risk/benefit review.
America needs to restore the authenticity and consistency of its brand promise. Failure to do so will ultimately result in a decline in both America’s brand relevance and its ability to compete globally, which will be extremely difficult to reverse.
Contributed by: Ed Burghard, Harley Procter Marketer, Procter & Gamble/Executive Director, Ohio Business Development Coalition
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