Despite running for President, Barack Obama has created a unique brand that has changed the political landscape. According to Keith Reinhard, chairman emeritus of DDB Worldwide, "Barak Obama is three things you want in a brand: (1) new, (2) different and (3) attractive." And Obama has spread his brand on a new medium that many of us are still trying to figure out -- New media and online social networks. Any forward-thinking business should take note of Obama's rise, despite what you may or may not think of him. According to the April 2008 issue of Fast Company, social networking poses challenges for marketers no matter what or whom they are selling. Companies must cede a certain degree of control over their brands if they are to leverage their on-line presence. BarakObama.com features constant updates, videos, photos, ring tones, widgets and events to give supporters a reason to come back to their site. On mybarackobama.com for example, the campaign's quasi social network, guests can create their own blog, send policy recommendations, set up their own mini-fundraising site, organize an event, even use a phone bank widget to get call lists and scripts to canvass from home. John McCain's and Hillary Clinton's site offers similar networking tools as does Obama, but Obama has invested more in building his brand both on and off-line. It sure beats the "meet-ups" and "move-ons" from the 2004 presidential election. The Obama campaign has also tapped other on-line communities. And while he, like others, must cede some control, you can still stay on message and pass on your messages to others. However, like everything else, you need to continually monitor the web and act or react accordingly. The best strategy however for an on-line presence, is to build your brand, connect with a diversity of viewers and engage others in the discussion.

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