Categories: Laura

And the winner is…

            “Change we can believe in” was one
of the greatest campaign slogans in political history. The spectacular visual hammer of the sun on
the horizon along with that verbal nail put Barak Obama in the White House.
But staying there another four years wouldn’t be so easy. Incumbents can’t run
on change or hope, they have to run on their records. And with a still-suffering
economy and gridlock in Washington Obama didn’t have a lot of success or jobs
to boast about. Selling Obama in 2012 wasn't going to be easy.

            But with one brilliant word, Obama made his case. His “forward” slogan
did what most slogans do not. It cut both ways. It said something positive
about his brand while also saying something negative about the competition.
That’s tough to do. But when you do that, your slogan is extremely powerful.
Obama set up the election as a choice between going forward with him or going backwards
with Romney to policies that failed in the past. What did Romney say? “Believe
in America.” That slogan implies that Obama doesn’t believe in America. Obama
spent four years as President and doesn’t believe in America? Makes no sense
and says nothing.

            The final and not insignificant
touch was incorporating Obama’s powerful visual hammer from 2008 right into the slogan
itself. He couldn’t say “hope” but that visual did. It hammered his message in an emotional way words alone cannot. No matter what party you voted for or believe it, you have to admit the marketing of Obama was pure genius. Because it was.

Laura Ries :

View Comments (5)

  • If you say so. Here I thought it meant "trying to go forward" when we're stuck in the mud and even sliding backwards. He was backing a lie because we haven't been moving in that direction but I suppose there's always hope that we will move in a positive direction if you 'believe...in America'. Wait, that was Romney's slogan. Gasp, but who ultimately won?

  • Easy to agree with the winner's strategies after the fact. Were you an Obama supporter before the election, I don't remember receiving any Ries' Pieces to that effect, must have missed them.

  • Just got the Visual Hammer book. Loving it! Great work. I really think it fills in a missing piece in my knowledge of Positioning. Makes a LOT of sense and I feel like I have a better grasp of Positioning and how to apply it. Got a few ideas for projects I'm working on like moderngreetings.com and printplace.com
    Wrote an amazon.com review on the kindle version, too!
    Jason Bedunah

  • Why wait until after the election to decide who has the better slogan? "Forward," like "Trust," "Change" and "Hope" behore it, is a vague, insipid monosyllable, almost as degenerate as "Uh-huh" for a soft drink. (Okay, I know that one of those words is technically two syllables.) Yes, the logo is good.
    It's true that Romney's slogan sounds like a joke, like a parody of empty slogans, and suggests snidely that Obama doesn't believe in America. But it looks like almost half the electorate bought it.