Your brand is your lifeblood. I’ve written before (as have many others), your brand is not what you say about you – it’s what others say about you. This means that you don’t control your brand, your audience does. Going against your brand in a short-term attempt to “win” is not only a tactic of last resort, it’s something that shouldn’t even be considered.
I’ve worked very hard to avoid any mention or analogy to politics and the presidential race on this blog. The emotional charge of politics makes it difficult for my real message focused on profitable growth to come through. However, David Brooks (New York Times columnist) has written such a good piece on The Education of McCain that I couldn’t avoid it.
Brooks talks about how McCain has been "forced" to fight a more traditional (and negative) campaign than he and his advisors wanted. Brooks quotes McCain’s advisors as saying, “[We] didn’t choose the circumstances of this race. [Our] job is to cope with them.”
While McCain’s advisors are making the traditional, safe choice, I still think it’s the wrong one if McCain wants to win - let alone govern. McCain’s advisors claim that the only way that they can get news attention is to attack Obama. While that is certainly true at this point, it’s also so against type that long-time McCain supporters have wondered what is happening to their candidate. McCain is becoming the very politician he (and his supporters) used to mock.
McCain has succeed by going against the traditional political-type. His premature defeat has been called several times (in 2000, they said he would never be able to run for President again, and in this election cycle, his candidacy was declared DOA in the primary season). McCain has always stuck to his approach and won in the end (even though he “lost” the 2000 election, his influence increased).
Now, he’s going against his brand. Now, he’s playing traditional politics. Now, he’s lost he core difference. I get that playing his non-traditional game was a long shot (legitimately, his entire candidacy was a long shot and few thought he’d get this far) – however, playing this new game (one that I don’t think he’s particularly good at) puts him in a far more precarious position. I’d rather that he stuck to his guns, and tried to pull another one out.