Barack Obama fought most of his campaign under the banner "change is coming", which really stated the obvious --- "Dubya" was on the way out, so change was coming anyway, either in the form of Obama or McCain. But now he is about to take office, what public image will Obama adopt, and will the rest of the Democratic Party rally to the same "brand"?
Obama may, in part, be about change and the bringing about of it, but change is just the effect. We need to identify the cause to get to the heart of the Obama brand.
What Obama is trying to give the American people is the sense of optimism that a change to their leadership will bring about.
He promises to lead the US out of the darkness into the light, to deploy modern thinking on health, jobs, the environment and so on to make his country and, given its international status, the world, a better place.
If Obama were to be considered as a brand, I'd put optimism at the heart of it. This is the idea he wants to own in the minds of US and global audiences, giving people hope after a long run of economic woe and military action.
In other words, the future's bright... reminiscent of another brand beginning with "O" that promised optimism in its category.
The Heavenly brand model uses three values to describe a product, and three values to describe its personality.
We believe that the Obama brand map would look like this:
So the first of Obama's product values would be intelligence -- compared to his predecessor, enough said.
This is the professor-President, the multi-book author and erudite commentator and orator.
Secondly, he will exude innovation, promising to blaze a trail and create a culture of enterprise and innovation and "firsts" in America, driven by his own historic success at achieving the highest office in world politics.
Finally, democracy -- a democrat with a small "d" as well as a capital, he is pioneering a collaborative approach to decision-making, witnessed by the expertise of the team he has built around himself.
Obama's personality values encompass firstly bravery -- in many ways, he is the ultimate challenger brand, embodied by the fearless determination he has shown to win against the odds.
He is also a true visionary, with the conviction that he's making history every day.
And finally -- and perhaps most importantly to the US public and world at large -- he is human, a man of the people, the antithesis of the more withdrawn nature of the Bush administration. He wants to make the presidency accessible to the people, to engage with them at their level and take on board what they have to say.
By following this strong blueprint for his unique style of government, Obama can lead successfully in his own way and ensure the legacy he wants to create.
Richard Sunderland, managing director, Heavenly.