Blagojevich: Nobody’s buying this decimated brand any longer

December 23, 2008 at 5:36 am 2 comments

By Sally Saville Hodge

“I will fight. I will fight. I will fight until I take my last breath. I have done nothing wrong.”

Such heroic words. From just about anyone else, they would be inspirational. Send a shiver up your spine for their passion. Make you raise a fist in the air in support.

But these are, in fact, the defiant words uttered by Illinois’ own Rod Blagojevich, the governor who was hoist by his own petard – caught on tape trying to sell the president-elect’s Senate seat, shake down the Chicago Tribune, and hold up the CEO of a leading Chicago children’s hospital for a big campaign contribution.

The man is totally clueless as to the damage he’s done to his personal brand, not just through his most recent actions, but pretty much throughout his tenure as Illinois governor. His denials of culpability last week only served to denigrate his brand even further – though with an approval rating of 8 percent, it’s hard to imagine it could be more tarnished.

You read a lot about brand these days, but most people tend to think of it as a business buzzword, associated with products (Sony, Starbucks, Apple) or a broader experience (Disney, Google, Amazon). But the principles that are behind an effective business brand management strategy are just applicable to a personal brand strategy. Both must be carefully managed, because a brand is very difficult to repair once damaged.

It’s regrettably easy to compromise a brand. Ask Elliot Spitzer. The jarring disconnect between his public persona as a crusader against corruption (including prostitution) and his private choice to utilize the services of a high-priced call girl destroyed his credibility.

It takes a lot to rebuild one – and sometimes that only occurs with unforeseen outside assistance. Prior to 9/11, Rudy Giuliani’s brand was probably on par with Spitzer’s today, though not sunk by the nearly same weight of negative equities that mark Rod Blagojevich’s. His stunningly impressive seizing of the leadership reins in the minutes, hours and days after 9/11 attacks renewed his brand enough to ultimately make a presidential run possible, just not strongly enough to make it successful.

Credibility. Authenticity. Quality. Integrity. Leadership. These are among the aspects that combine to uphold the strongest brands, providing that’s the way the public experiences them. At this stage, Blagojevich’s protests are just as empty as his promises. Nobody’s buying this brand anymore. It’s time to give it up.

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Entry filed under: Branding, Crisis Communications, Public Affairs, Public Relations.

Educating clients about the traditional/new media paradigm shifts Municipal PR, Chicago Style

2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. coffee fiend  |  January 7, 2009 at 9:03 am

    Blagojevich has been so successful at making himself and his office look ridiculous that about a million people are now able to remember and maybe even spell his crazy name — that’s sort of like an accomplishment, right?

    Reply
  • 2. Sally Hodge  |  January 7, 2009 at 3:00 pm

    Yeah, let’s talk negative brand equity. Not only can they spell it right, but even Letterman can pronounce it! We should be so proud.

    Reply

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