The American Brand Image for 2020

Americans long for what has been our image thus far: a strong, economically expanding America, resting on fairness and freedom, anchored to democracy and enriched by religious traditions.

Unfortunately, some Americans can be lead to believe that this America, “their” America, is being “stolen” by undocumented immigrants and by radical minorities. Three consequences of this belief are: the abandonment of mutual trust, the polarization of the political dialog and the prevalence of the extremes. It is unfortunate that many citizens endorse a vision of America as a country of exclusion, lacks solidarity, and is sometimes racist and intolerant of liberties opposed by some religious organizations.

Many other Americans long for a welcoming America that favors the realization of the individual self by implementing fair access to schools and health care, fair retribution of work, fair criminal justice as well as economic and judicial equality among citizens irrespective of origin, gender, ethnicity, sexual preferences, handicaps etc.

How do we revisit history in order to understand the flaws in our country today and move forward? It is unfortunate that by criticizing the past with the criteria of the 21st century, the image of emblematic American characters has been tarnished, as if the common good they did had been buried with their bones and the personal evil they did, had lived after them. (e.g.: Washington was a slave holder; Jefferson had an intimate relationship his female slave; Lincoln might have believed in the inferiority of some races; Roosevelt is accused of being anti-Semite; and Kennedy repeatedly cheated on his wife).

In business as in politics, the image of the brand is as important as the product itself. As much as the Trump administration has been able to forge a powerful brand image of an intolerant, religious and extremism that encounters the approval of a relevant minority of the citizens, it has to be conceded that the brand image for the welcoming, fair and equity-minded America is absent.

On July the 20th, there is another opportunity to test the American brand image: it will be 50 years since the touch down of Apollo 11 on the moon. Shall we remember it as a success of the Kennedy-Johnson era, or shall we point out that Werner von Braun was an officer in the German Army? That differentiation is crucial to our brand.

By Paolo Giacomoni