Monday, May 25, 2015

A new deal

Campaign pin.
Part One:  President of the United States of America—itself is but an office and not a brand because it is who holds the office that at any moment in history that places their individual stamp on the position. And one such presidential brand is Franklin Delano Roosevelt, otherwise known as FDR. He served as the 32nd elected president. And he is noted for three things—that he won a record four terms as president, took over the presidency during the Great Depression, and led America through most of World War II. He is also the architect of the New Deal, which continues to influence US politics today. He is both revered and reviled.

Candidate Roosevelt began his political career early, at the age of 28. In 1910, he won a seat in the New York state senate, and re-election in 1912. This is where the Roosevelt brand sprouted. He didn't like the status quo of the Democratic political machine in New York—embodied in what was referred to as the Tammany Hill machine. Without spinning off onto insufferable detail, suffice it to say that the machine was akin to a political mafia with the neck of New York politics in its clutches. A young idealist like Roosevelt hated such a thing, so he and other mutineers bucked the system. The result was that they were successful in putting their candidate in the US Senate (voters did not elect US Senators until after the 17th Amendment was adopted by Congress May 13 1913). 

The New York senate was a forge that formed the steel of Roosevelt. He learned from political machinations and backroom negotiations. In his second term with the state senate, he wound up chairing the Agriculture Committee, introducing him to the politics of the people. And he found success. Roosevelt was becoming more progressive, supporting labor and social welfare programs for women and children. 

Roosevelt as Assistant Secretary of the Navy
Roosevelt moved up the political ladder with the election of Woodrow Wilson in 1912. Once again, swimming against the Tammany current, Roosevelt threw his support behind Wilson, and the reward was being appointed Assistant Secretary of the Navy. Roosevelt was never content just to skate by; he wanted to have an impact. And interestingly, he knew that the budding use of planes would become essential weapons. He butted heads with older officers who scoffed at the idea of the navy having any use for aviation. Roosevelt negotiated with congressional leaders and other government departments to get budgets approved for the Navy Aviation Division. Later, during the close of World War I, Roosevelt proposed leasing weapons to the merchant marine in order to arm them against the Germans in the Atlantic. Weapon sales were illegal at the time, so this set up the idea of lend-lease down the road.

A relationship with labor began at this phase in the Roosevelt career. Around this time the theories of a Frederick W Taylor were weaving their ways into the management practices of heavy industry. The essence of his ideas included process improvement and efficiencies. At the core of it was breaking down specific tasks within the overall process as well as having measured outcomes tied to labor's compensation. And as we all know, success metrics and accountability are not attributes that labor unions value.  Shipbuilding managers embraced Taylor, but Roosevelt, having a soft spot for unions in his heart and campaign coffers, opposed the system. Right or wrong, these issues allowed Roosevelt to jump feat first into labor issues, as well as resource management during war since his service as Assistant Secretary of the Navy lasted through World War I.

Cox/Roosevelt Campaign 
Roosevelt began to site the presidency in his planning scope pretty early on. He needed to jump out on the national stage as a candidate—but he did so prematurely. He actually got is backside whipped in a 1914 run for the US Senate. This is where the Tammany machine got some revenge. Then president Woodrow was after re-election and the local political machine was needed to secure the valuable New York vote. What this taught Roosevelt was that strong local political organizations were a part of the tactical arsenal even in federal elections. Another run on the national stage had the same outcome. He ran as the VP on the 1920 with James M. Cox. They lost to Warren Harding and Calvin Coolidge. 

Supports gave the illusion of recovery. 
An undeniable link to the FDR brand is the man in his wheelchair, which was due to his having contracted polio in 1921. Even before, Roosevelt was somewhat sickly. He suffered from typhoid fever in 1912, and then was once of the near half a billion victims of the 1918 Flu Pandemic that killed somewhere between 50 and 100 million people. His third strike was polio. He lived with the disease for  almost a quarter century before he died. But the immediate cost was the use of his legs and retreat from political life.

Recovery was really an illusion, although treatment had some positive affect. Still, he crafted an image of healing and valiant effort against the disease—which the public largely bought into. Few really knew just how severe the disease physically disabled Roosevelt. And by the 1924 National Democratic Convention, he was back in the game. A few years later, Roosevelt was elected Governor of New York, serving from 1929 to 1932—amidst the worst economic upheaval in global history, and one that would tee up another crisis, swallowing the planet in military conflict for six years.

NOTE: Coming soon - part two, which will conclude discovery and complete the brand analysis.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Honor to those who served

"The honor is to serve..." That's a Klingon saying. And while from a fictitious character, it nicely sums up the spirit of the men and women who serve in our armed forces—and very much those who have sacrificed in the defense of our nation. The fallen are remembered each Memorial Day, and on this one, BIH highlights those who've honored this nation by their service.

George Washington - No lie—George Washington was a man well prepared to lead our nation against the British. If there was one better, he never surfaced. Not only did he serve our budding nation with honor—his leadership demonstrated deep conviction for that which he fought.

Flying Tigers - These were the tough guys, the streetfighers of World War II. They came, they saw, they kicked butt and chewed bubblegum.

Red Tails - The Tuskegee Airmen represent some of the most heroic and honor-bound men that have served our nation. Read their story and find pride in your nation.

Living in Infamy - Pearl Harbor was a watershed moment for the United States of America. Reminiscent of Hannibal's defeat of Rome at Cannae, Japan made the same errors and let loose a sleeping giant.

Just a little bigger - Abraham Lincoln was never a soldier, but he studied hard about military history and tactics while leading a nation through a divisive war. And for his duty, he gave the ultimate sacrifice.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Texas Rising

The History Channel celebrates the rise of the Lone Star State with a mini series premiering Memorial Day weekend. And the reason is that the birth of Texas is filled with epic struggles between freedom fighters and despotism—and the fall of valiant forces hopelessly outnumbered. Not just the Alamo, but also Goliad. A desperate provisional government was on the run ahead of a massive army hellbent on capture and a very public torture and execution. On the night before the great battle at San Jacinto, Mexican forces nearly captured the president of Texas, who by the skin of his teeth escaped in canoe along the Buffalo Bayou, reaching an old riverboat to chug him toward a fortified Galveston. Galveston itself was fortified over two or so months, being prepared as the last stand should Houston fail, and Santa Anna's forces swarm the island from land and sea. 

Texas forces were bracing for a slaughter. But it was an odd turn of events on a prairie near Brays Bayou that revealed Santa Anna's strategy—and his error in thinking. That moment turned the tide for Texas, setting the stage for an epic victory on the 21st of April, 1836.
Below are icons of that struggle that have become brands of history in their rights. The Alamo, Sam Houston, and Jim Bowie. Why, even Texas herself is a brand all her own. These entries hint at what makes the Lone Star State so unique, not only in the minds of her citizens, but also around the world. And why, when someone utters the word, Texas, the mind swirls in a torrent of expectation. 

Therefore, submitted for your approval...Texas!

Remembering the Alamo - As Thermopylae is to most Greeks, so is the Alamo to most Texans. And while the Alamo is one of two defining moments which helped establish the Texas brand identity, the Alamo is its own stand alone brand. Click here to understand how.

Sam—I am no Wellington - Sam Houston lived many lives, but it was in Texas that he met his destiny as a commander, and as president. Click to learn more about this unusual hero.

Now that's a knife - Jim Bowie earned his legendary reputation with his signature knife long before the Alamo. Click to find out why he may be the toughtest man in history.

Celebrating a really big brand - Texas! The very sound of that word evokes an expectation. Click to learn what makes the Lone Star State such a big brand.