It was a good week! (election week, that is)

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Well, it was quite the week, and you can now thank your own God that it’s finally over.

Lucinda Williams has a new CD out, which for once doesn’t make you want to commit suicide, and Shooter Jennings also has a new one, covering some of his dad’s (Waylon) songs, and it sounds real good.

We also have a new Prez-elect and a new American “Brand”–-Obama.
It’s been an experience watching them all–-Obama, Biden, Mac and Palin–attempt to persuade us to “buy in” to any one of them.

If you think of Obama and McCain as two distinct brands, which one do you think maintained consistency with the core values and identity that he represented?

My friends, Mac has always been branded the “straight talk express,” but over the months he really deviated from that persona and went off the rails. In branding terms he went “off brand,” which caused confusion and lost him votes.

To further dilute his brand, we had the personas of Maverick, Caribou Barbie (as if!) and Hockey Mom–-and, oh yeah, let’s not forget Joe the Plumber. He really brought added value to the ole straight talk expresso.

Then, add into the mix those strange appearances of the “outlaw country rednecks,” Hank Williams, Jr., and Gretchen Wilson, with Palin singin along to “Redneck Woman”-–hmmm.

McCain did get back on brand towards the end of the campaign, but it was really too late.

To draw a parallel, Starbucks started going off brand by diversifying too much. It lost customer loyalty and sales (akin to votes) and then had to re-group, re-commit to the core values of the Starbucks brand and even close all of its stores to re-introduce its employees to the values and integrity of the brand.

Mac, on the other hand, didn’t have the time or luxury to shut down for a day—and I believe that really cost him the “sales” he should have had.

“Palin,” if rearranged and translated into French means “rabbit.” Interesting.

Barak Obama, on the other hand, maintained a consistent image, voice and identity throughout the campaign. He and Biden never deviated from the brand–“change”–from the start to the end. People understood the brand and all it stood for. He knows who he is, and he always speaks on-brand.

To draw another parallel, think of the brand experience of Zippo, founded in 1932. That’s a 76-year journey. The brand’s core statement since 1932 has been “Guaranteed for Life: Any Zippo pocket lighter, when returned to our factory, will be put in first-class mechanical condition free of charge, for we have yet to charge a cent for the repair of a Zippo pocket lighter, regardless of age or condition.”

The brand and identity have remained the same all this time. Sure, the logo has been “tweaked” a few times but never un-recognizably. Zippo has developed a very loyal customer base and a product design that is a world classic. The basic mechanism of the Zippo lighter has remained unchanged since 1932. However, it has been improved over the years as new and better materials have evolved, just like a brand has to do: evolve gradually–-advance to prosper.

So, the moral of the story is stay on brand. Be consistent but open to change. Maintain your core values and assets. Don’t lose sight of your brand, or you’ll lose the vote of confidence of your customers.

And don’t forget to go out and buy Lucinda’s and Shooter’s new CDs.

Me, I couldn’t vote. I was mortified; I’m not a citizen–YET–but I promise y’all that I will be before 2012. Who knows? We may have Al Roker, 50 Cent and a rabbit running for president. Shoot, its gonna be a real difficult decision.

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