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Saturday, May 30, 2015

A New Deal for New Hope

Roosevelt the outdoorsman
Part Two: By 1932, Roosevelt was poised for national office. He'd slugged it out on a state level with the Tammany Hill political establishment—he won some and lost some. And he learned that a certain locality was necessary even on a national stage. So he made sure to mend fences with his former political nemesis. Fate had also dealt blows to Roosevelt, with the first two being typhus and the 1918 Flu. While the last blow was polio, this may have been the one that helped his fighting spirit emerge. This may also have been spurred by his competitive nature. Roosevelt was a very active young man, having learned shooting, rowing, polo and golf, not to mention sailing. Competition and sportsmanship were attributes that added to a quiver of already inherent presidential qualities.

The DNA of Roosevelt includes genuine Americanism. He is from Dutch stock that came to the New World in time to fight for independence, making FDR a Son of the American Revolution. His great grandfather, Isaac Roosevelt, not only fought, he was steeped in politics as well. He served in the New York state assembly and was also a member of the state Constitutional Convention. That was the Roosevelt side. His maternal grandfather was the foundation of the family wealth earned from his China trade activities—importing opium and tea to be specific. The family wealth afforded FDR education by travel. Many visits to Europe allowed him to hone his conversational skills in both French and German, obviously serving him down the road. To be sure, Roosevelt went to elite schools. In fact one of his headmasters was a great influence, suggesting that students not only help the less fortunate, but also enter public life. And for public life, Roosevelt had more than one role model. 

Teddy Roosevelt campaign pin
Interestingly, young Roosevelt had met President Grover Cleveland, even spoke with him. Cleveland he whispered to the boy that he hoped he'd never be president, implying that it was a burden—perhaps even a curse. And then there was cousin Theodore Roosevelt, who'd served as president from 1901 to 1909. He had a profound political impact on FDR, despite being a Republican. Theodore was a reformist and his leadership style was anything but passive. Franklin Roosevelt admired these things about his cousin. It should be noted that Franklin Roosevelt followed a similar office ascension as Theodore Roosevelt. Both men served in the New York state legislature, were appointed as Assistant Secretary of the Navy, and, of course, served as presidents. Additionally, Franklin Roosevelt's "New Deal" was not altogether dissimilar in spirit and some goals as Theodore Roosevelt's less famous but equally progressive "Square Deal" policies from a few decades earlier. Both sought to rein in business and protect the American people. It is politically intriguing that the iconic personification of the Democratic Party was so inspired by and borrowed significantly from a Republican president. 

Ultimately however, two things define Roosevelt going into the election of 1932, and they were the Great Depression and polio. Polio made him human, rather than an elitist. Roosevelt had established an institute to help those with the disease. Add this to his progressive views on just about everything, which were very popular during the depression, and the stage was set to catapult the man into branding history. 

Therefore, submitted for your approval... 

1. Determine the most appropriate brand-positioning attribute. 
Roosevelt developed and packaged a formula to relieve the out-of-work masses, which included recovery programs and reforms to hopefully prevent future similar economic collapses. And its implementation meant a huge expansion in the government's role in the US economy. This was his pitch to America, but it was built on the support of those masses from which he cobbled together a substantial political coalition—united labor unions, big city machines, white ethnics, blacks, and rural white Southerners. He'd learned to work with them during his days in the state assembly and as governor. In contemporary terms, these were people who felt abandoned by the system and pushed aside by the man. Assembling this coalition, Roosevelt wholly realigned American politics after 1932, defining American liberalism for the next thirty years and beyond. 
2. Devise a distinctive way to articulate the brand 
The value proposition in Roosevelt's program to battle the Great Depression was hope and optimism for all. Just as he was while editor-in-chief of The Harvard Crimson daily newspaper, Roosevelt was ambitious in his aims, energetic in his activities, and persistently optimistic about a positive outcome and to renew the national spirit and hope for the future. Understanding that he needed to recharge American pride, he made his attitude and determination the the embodiment of his new deal. 

A new deal for hope
3. Develop a personality by which to identify the brand
Roosevelt - for a new deal 

4. Establish graphic standards. 
In terms of look, Roosevelt made it a standard to not be seen as weak. So, rarely was he photographed in a wheelchair and great care was taken to minimize the appearance of his leg braces. In fact there are only three images ever with him seen in a wheelchair. He was always photographed as energetic and confident, or serious and thoughtful.
5. Consistently execute the branding program. 
When taking office after his first election, Roosevelt was intent on making his first hundred days in office count. He kicked off the New Deal with every intent to quickly relieve those worst affected by the depression. But results were not immediate. There was a second new deal in 1936 and in all, included government jobs for the unemployed, policies designed to foster economic growth, and regulation of Wall Street, banks and transportation. Various programs benefitted the unemployed and farmers, and supported labor unions while restricting business and finance. Of note is the fact that much the regulations on business remained in effect until 1985. Still in existence today are the Securities and Exchange Commission, Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation and the Social SecurityAdministration.
America struggled to climb out of the depression. While the New Deal certainly provided relief and political confidence, it remains arguable whether the programs actually "pulled" the US economy up. Given that Europe and Asia were building up for war, it could be argued that those are the coals that fired the global economy. It must also be said that as World War II approached, and despite Roosevelt's efforts to remain officially neutral, his goal of making America the "Arsenal of Democracy" by supplying material support to the Allies, aided industrial recovery. Once the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor was endured, the rest of the Roosevelt presidency became history. During the war, unemployment dropped to 2%, relief programs largely ended, and the industrial economy exploded as millions moved to wartime factory jobs or entered military service. After the war, his concept of a United Nations took hold and is an international forum, although not quite the solution to conflict he'd hoped. 

Franklin Delano Roosevelt died after winning a record four terms in office. Some scholars consider him one of the top three U.S. Presidents, along with Abraham Lincoln and George Washington. That is open for debate. But undeniably, FDR burned his mark into the fabric of American politics, global relations, and in history with incredible feats of energy, vision, and persistence. He was a new deal that continues to impact the United States and the world.

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.