Hendricks County Flyer, Avon, IN

Commentary

December 11, 2012

GOP needs to rebrand itself

(Continued)

Many people hate pop culture and love America's historic symbols, reminiscent though they may be of a flawed past. But we live in today's world, not one where the founding fathers still walk the earth. It requires meeting people where they are - not changing principles, just approach.

Obama gets this. Why do you think he only visited comedy and talk shows during the closing months of his campaign? He knew that winning the pop culture meant winning it all.

Likewise, and more importantly, the iconography created by his campaign resonates with the prevailing culture.

The O with the bright sun and flowing fields conjures images of a brighter tomorrow with Obama at the center of it, the sun or the Son as Jamie Foxx and others have labeled him. The O obviously stands for Obama but it works outside of his name as an emblem for America. The Democratic National Committee keeps using the symbol instead of the presidential seal, leading commentator Bill Whittle to say of the ubiquitous O, "what they are branding is in fact an ideology, centered around a cult of personality."

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney's brand - red and blue wavy lines in the shape of an R, by comparison, is like a bad copycat. The flow of the lines makes it feel somewhat modern - and it summons the U.S. flag. But the R in his case speaks mainly to the candidate without invoking a better, or any, vision of America.

Politics do not offer salvation for anyone, conservative or liberal alike. And adopting successful tactics does not mean shelving a belief in a limited government.

But icons are powerful tools that shape a candidate or a movement's image in the public. Given the success of Obama's image machine, conservatives need to understand branding is at least as central to their cause as the ideas animating it.

When or if that happens, progressives will not know what hit them because freedom and prosperity are so much more appealing than a government forcing each person to pay his or her fair share.

- Marta H. Mossburg is an independent columnist. Contact her at marta@martamossburg.com.

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