Tuesday, November 27, 2007

BRAND AMERICA by Simon Anholt and Jeremy Hildreth

The themes of Brand America are related to the question President Bush asked after 9/11: Why do they hate us? Since its inception, America has marketed itself and its culture as a brand. Looked at that way, America is the world's most powerful brand. Yet in recent years, as America's popularity has plummeted all over the globe, it is evident that this power has declined.

Brand America traces how America's brand became powerful, how it declined, and how it might strengthen again. Much of the suggestions are common sense, and are just good marketing. For example, good companies market a good product rather than dressing up a campaign for a crappy product no one wants. The U.S. has done the latter in recent years as the government has been unresponsive to any outside input, that is, the market.

Few people are aware of it, but the Smith-Mundt Act, passed in the 1940s, prohibits the government from exposing its citizens to its international propaganda. While this act has had hits value, it keeps the citizenry in the dark about what our government is doing abroad. Now, anyone can view this information on the internet, but the fact remains that no matter who is at fault, the American public has been relatively uninformed about and uninvolved in international diplomacy.

The authors do not take the "to know us is to love us" position that some mass communication scholars have, as they appear unimpressed by programs like Charlotte Beers' Shared Values Initiative.

There are many more concepts in this book on how America as a brand can and should handle itself, many of which are thought- and conversation-provoking. This book certainly would be a beneficial read to anyone the slightest bit interested in America's place in the world.