Brand America – Promise Kept

On hearing the outcome of the military mission to capture or kill Osama bin Laden, Mayor Bloomberg somberly declared Americans have kept their promise after the terrorist attack of September 11, 2001.

Promise kept.

I have written about the importance of authenticity before.  Authenticity is key to branding success.  Keeping your promise matters.  If you don’t your reputation is damaged and trust is suspended.  Brand America is at a historical moment and the need to behave authentically is of paramount importance.

Osama bin Laden was placed on the FBI’s list of Ten Most Wanted Fugitives and Most Wanted Terrorists for his involvement in the 1998 US embassy bombings.  He was implicated in the attack on the USS Cole in 2000.  His attack on the United States on 9/11 led then President George W. Bush to promise Americans and the world that Osama bin Laden would be brought to justice.  On May 2, 2011, President Barrack Obama announced to the world – Mission Accomplished.

Promise kept.

Now Brand America faces another challenge.  It is critical America remembers and behaves in a manner authentic with its core promise.  Brand America is squarely in the global fish bowl and the world is watching every move.  They are watching to see if the core promise of Brand America is authentic.

My concern is the global jury may still be out.  An article authored in 2009, made me think hard about the world’s real perception of Brand America. The article is titled “How the World Views America – So Different From How America Views Itself”.  It is a sobering look in the mirror that makes me reflect on the wisdom behind Michael Jackson’s lyrics – “If you wanna make the world a better place, take a look at yourself and then make a change.”

But a lot has certainly happened since that article was written.  The world economy has been in recovery mode.  Protesters in the Middle East are demanding increased freedoms, and China is undergoing unprecedented economic growth on a trajectory that could result in it passing America as the global leading super power. But one constant is that the world is watching to see if Brand America’s promise is authentic or simply hyperbola.

In my humble opinion, it has never been more important than this very moment to walk the talk of Brand America’s promise.  The world is watching.  The world wants to believe.

I for one am optimistic the world will not be disappointed.

“His demise should be welcomed by all who believe in peace and human dignity,” Obama said in a speech announcing bin Laden’s death. “Justice has been done.”

Promise kept.

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4 Comments so far

  1. Michelle McGill

    May 3, 2011

    I agree that how America is perceived globally have a direct impact on their businesses. I don’t see sense in using this concept however, because it tooks us 10 years to fulfill the promise and it was quite possible that Osama would have died of natural or other causes before we could keep this promise – would that have made us liars and untrue to our word?

  2. Interesting read. I don’t know if you can really leave politics out of the equation here, or if fulfillment of promise is significantly more important than perpetual attempt at promise keeping. Granted, people expect results. But as long as it appears that someone is focused on keeping promises (commitment + transparency) then the observer has the feeling that the promise is at least being sought to be kept. During the previous presidency, I think I can argue that this didn’t seem to be the case. Having a top U.S. leader who is socially/fiscally related to the perpetrator of 9/11, and another who benefitting by being on the board of a defense contractor doesn’t help much for honesty, integrity, and transparency (trust). In addition, most of the world think of the U.S. as a greedy, clumsy, not-so-smart obese little brother who leaves a mass of destruction, waste, and harmful ideology in his wake.

    In the corporate world, typically (albeit, not always) strategies are honed from similar pools of thought. They have the same basic mindset and objectives (fiscal success) and often let those with appropriate skills do their job(s).

    Unfortunately, USS America has a different captain driving the ship now and again, and likely half a different crew each time she sets sail over the 7 seas. Those whose ports she visits wonder why the ship has changed so much, and whether or not they are coming to rape & pillage, offer Humanitarian aid, create an economic coup -whether they should let her birth in their ports at all.

    America’s roadmap (Bill of Rights, Constitution, various Acts, etc) all function as a somewhat brand guideline, but with two very strong participant camps (comprised of voters, lobbyists, corporations, special interest groups, etc.), having different ideas on the guideline’s meaning, purpose and/or how best to translate/adhere/execute it, no one knows what brand America will be like every four years. The problem with brand America as I see it, lies in inconsistency. Brand America changes all the time. Back and forth. Depending on what camp of thought one originates, its brand is either a liar, or a promise seeker/keeper.

  3. Dean Barber

    May 4, 2011

    I have to think Brand Obama is the story here. Many of his critics charged that Obama would be “soft” on terrorists, hinting that he had some sort of kinship with them, that he wasn’t “one of us.”

    The president has proved to be rather cold-blooded, which is a frankly necessary trait to be president. This is the second time that we know of that he has signed off on a hit on someone. The first time was Somali pirates and the second time Osama Bin Laden, with both missions carried out by Navy Seals.

    He could have gone the easy route and chose a missile to blow the place to smithereens, resulting in civilian deaths and questions on whether we got the bad buy. Instead, he chose, against the counsel of some in his inner circle, the hard route by deploying the Seals and bringing back the body for identification.

    To the American people, this shows two things: competence and courage.

    In one week, the president has produced a birth certificate and a death certificate, and as a result, his approval rating has jumped 10 points from last month.

  4. Ed Burghard

    May 5, 2011

    Here is an additional post that discusses the learning marketers can take away from the recent events –

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