Brand USA
March 18, 2002 4:59 AM   Subscribe

Brand USA Naomi ('No Logo') Klein on Charlotte Beers' work to manage the US 'brand'. Sitting outside the US, a lot of what Klein says about external perception of the 'brand' (and of Beers' actions) seems quite believable to me, but I'd be interested in hearing an insider view.
Klein's assertion that "...America's problem is not with its brand-- which could scarcely be stronger--but with its product" seems relatively solid, and if it is, it seems that Ms Beers' mission is all-but-impossible, or at the very least misdirected.
That said, the thrust of Klein's argument is the assertion that the US's values are basically incompatible with the whole idea of branding, and I'd suggest that the same could be said of many countries. I suppose the point here is that this specific exercise is rooted in the US's positioning of itself in the world at this point in time.
[Via abraxas]
posted by jonpollard (4 comments total)
The concept of "branding" seems useful in that it can help all the individuals representing a government or organization understand a given set of positions and represent these positions consistently. "Branding" is a little slicker than the old fashioned "ideological line" technique, in that "branding" implies coming up with something that the target market is interested in acquiring. The physical "products" offered by US-based companies are wildly popular, so I'm not sure I'm willing to go along with that part of the metaphor. IMHO, the process of diplomacy, dialogue, and understanding others is like any other communication process -- it requires listening and openness to the other side's perspective before true two-way communication is possible. The old-fashioned Schramm and Shannon-Weaver models of communication still apply, even if "branding" is a current buzzword.
posted by sheauga at 5:43 AM on March 18, 2002

sheauga, OUTSTANDING link!
It's well worth some time at that site.
posted by Blake at 5:48 AM on March 18, 2002

Gah! That entire story appears as one giant hyperlink in Konqueror.
posted by dagnyscott at 6:07 AM on March 18, 2002

"There is nothing wrong with getting somebody who knows how to sell something. We are selling a product. We need someone who can re-brand American foreign policy, re-brand diplomacy." - Colin Powell

After thinking it over a little more, having worked in sales: Branding / advertising isn't the same thing as actually selling. Selling means you provide something to meet your customer's need, and that something is worth paying a price. Is USA, Inc. really listening to its customer base, and meeting its needs at a price that works?

Perhaps Ms. Klein has a point, that we need to "re-brand" diplomacy by listening to our customers, and finding the range of products that work for them-- not by slapping a new label on the same old stuff.

Or perhaps our counterparts in other countries are asking to be treated not as customers, but as respected partners in the enterprise, whose opinions are valued even when we don't fully agree.
posted by sheauga at 6:13 PM on March 18, 2002

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