Friday, July 18, 2014

Mightier than the Sword—the Power of Brand


It is President Clinton’s assertion that the main weapon being used by Hamas in the current conflict in Gaza is a branding campaign against Israel. Without getting into a geopolitical debate or assigning blame on one side or the other for this current conflict, this is fascinating from a branding perspective. In fact, nation-branding, specifically Israeli nation-branding, is a topic I wrote about in the branding blog, The Finch Post, on February 17, 2012 (http://www.thefinchpost.com/2012/02/-this-brand.html).

In a recent interview, Bill Clinton said “Hamas was perfectly well aware what would happen if they started raining rockets on Israel. They fired thousands of them, and they have a strategy designed to force Israel to kill their own [i.e., Palestinian] civilians so  that the rest of the world will condemn [Israel]…In the short to medium term, Hamas can inflict terrible public relations damage on Israel by forcing it to kill Palestinian civilians to counter Hamas.”

I ask that no one use this as a platform to launch into a diatribe against either or both parties involved in the current conflict. My interest is not in the former President’s assignment of blame, but on his assertion that branding is being employed as an active campaign. I am curious as to how the branding community perceives this strategy. Are there comparable examples in the corporate world? Has one company or brand taken market share away from a rival by negatively branding it? What impact, if any, does such a practice have on the entity wielding the negative-branding tool against its competitor?