Brands / Private Equity / US Government / US Presidential Election

The Destruction of a Brand

brand1I promise that this will not be a political post one day before the U.S. election. With that, I find myself shaking my head with one part of me looking in the rear view mirror and one part looking ahead in the front windshield.

As any public relations professional will tell you; it takes ages to build a brand and could take seconds to destroy it.

Maybe my head is “punch drunk” in light of the fact that so many brands have recently come under attack.

Wells Fargo

In 2015, voted as one of the best run banks in the world, and a darling of the “Oracle of Omaha” Warren Buffet, now… riddled with scandal. After the news of over 2 million accounts created without the customers consent, Wells was attacked on multiple legal brand2fronts, resulting in the resignation of its CEO. The immediate damage can be seen in its stock decline of over 20%. Incorporated over 164 years ago, and the second largest bank by capitalization in the world, its overall brand image and strength has been badly damaged by what represents a minuscule fraction of its business.


Between phones exploding from incorrect charging, bans on airplanes, and recalled phones still having the same problems, it has not been a good year for the Asia conglomerate. This week their top loading washers have been self-destructing.

Add Tesla cars in auto-drive, Volkswagen emissions, Turing Pharmaceuticals, and Mylan (Epi-Pen®) price hikes to keep your head shaking now. These bruises can all be measured in monetary terms. Companies rise and companies fall, but some “brands” are far more important.

The President of the United States

Yes…there is a presidential “brand”

George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Roosevelt, J.F. Kennedy, Ronald Regan, Barrack Obama. All of these Presidents project a “feel” of Statesmanship. Whether you agree with their politics (as there were 38 other president that I did not mention) or not, I think that most people can agree that they represented the U.S. in at least a professional demeanor. Never before in the history of the Country were there discussions of male body parts, or brand3female body parts, looks, or credibility. Upon fact checking, Clinton has scored a 52% “truthfulness” in debates, with Trump’s score hitting 9%. Think about this …9%…meaning 91% of what he said was lies. With one day left, I still don’t know what his policy stances are, as it has been nothing but “mudslinging”. When a list of statements were read to Trump supporters, all adamantly supported the statements even after it was revealed that they were Adolf Hitler’s comments.

My concern is not necessarily who wins this circus, but what has the election cycle done to the “brand”. Where will we draw the line in the future? Is there a line?

The rear view mirror is ugly, but out the front windshield, it looks like we are going into a deep fog that will affect us ALL. What I can say is – buckle your seat belts.

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