Let’s not waste time talking about Apple, Target, Best Buy, Nike, 3M, Medtronic, Old Spice, Coke, Disney, or Volkswagen. Or even Oprah Winfrey, Lady GaGa, or Charlie Sheen as brands. We’ve got a bigger brand in trouble. We live in it.
The “American dream” itself has become a brand. We as Americans collectively transformed a piece of land into something more. America is female. She has an inception story. America has founders. America has slogans, mascots, iconography and loyal evangelists. We the people created these connotations. User generated. A crowd sourced creation.
The classic images that come to mind are Uncle Sam, the bald eagle, stars and stripes of the flag, open roads, empty spaces, skyscrapers, red, white and blue. But do these things seem a bit emptier than earlier times? Do people still feel they can trust in America’s promise? When a brand does not deliver on its promise, people will voice their grievances. Seems that America’s been under the “crisis management” plan for a few years. Do you agree?
I sent out a quick two-part survey awhile ago to read the temperature. The first part asked for an open-ended definition of the “American dream.” I received 28 responses; here’s what a few have to say: “Having the chance to be fully successful and achieve your dreams through hard work, perseverance, and a little luck.” Another person describes it as “the ability to create the lifestyle you desire.” And another says, “Pull yourself up by the bootstraps.” Most answers are peppered with mentions of happiness and security.
*Size of the word bubble represents frequency of the word in the responses*
Snapshot of how a few young people describe the “American Dream” as well as some financial insights
For the second part of my survey I asked, “How has the recession changed how you feel about the ‘American Dream?'” They were not hesitant to tell me their personal lifestyle changes: “Less money in the family, tighter budget on what parents can give, no family vacations, try to spend less.” Another person responded with, “I started clipping coupons for groceries. It makes me feel like an old lady.” These are brand testimonials. In creating the American dream, we decided the nation’s mission statement– Ultimately the guidelines to how we define our country and selves. “All men are created equal” with rights to “Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.” But America is askew. Who are we without prosperity?
Good brands are about sparking action. And what better time to act! We have a hot bed of people who want to be mobilized. People really do want to Rebrand America. But in order to have a functioning democracy, we need one for the modern age. A democracy 2.0. The next generation is reading bedtime stories on ipad, while our businesses and government struggle to keep information digestible on mobile and social platforms. Political views aside, I have to acknowledge Obama’s call to get government websites optimized for mobile. “Americans deserve a government that works for them anytime, anywhere, and on any device.”
That’s the idea. And the website already has clear navigation that people might actually visit:
screenshot of barackobama.com
I’m not saving I really know what America needs right now. Better communication for sure. And better ways to engage people through modern media about what matters to us. We all will have to decide America’s fate. I’m not sure how to rebrand America, but I do still believe good branding can create change. Maybe even save the world. I’m not sure, but I’m optimistic.