Democrats only have themselves to blame for upcoming losses

By Steven Pearlstein

(AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File)

I’m going to go out on a limb here and predict that Tuesday will not be a good day for Democrats. The reason isn’t Ebola or the Islamic State or that the country has suddenly become more conservative. It’s not because of Fox News or all the outside money that is being spent. What we have here is a failure of brand management — in this case, the Democratic brand.

Branding is the big buzzword in business. In its weak form, branding is merely the marketing veneer, the new name or logo or advertising tagline. But in its strong and more meaningful form, according to Allen Adamson, head of North American operations of Landor Associates, a brand is more than what you do or say but who you are and what values you stand for. It’s the “single, sticky idea” that you are constantly communicating internally and externally, informing and guiding every aspect of a company’s operations and strategy.

“Building a brand is telling a clear, credible and compelling story about what you’ve done and what you are going to do,” explains David Srere, chief strategy officer at Siegel + Gale, another leading brand consultancy. “It says that come hell or high water, this is what we are going to be about.” It’s the simple, enduring idea that cuts through the escalating noise in the marketplace, overcomes the rampant cynicism among consumers and allows companies to recover from the inevitable bad luck of missteps.

What’s true for companies also applies to political parties. And from that standpoint, the performance of the Obama White House and his party’s congressional candidates has largely been a case study in how to destroy brand equity: Democratic candidates begging the Democratic president not to campaign for them and, in one memorable …read more