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Elizabeth Warren (TM)

posted by Katie Porter

I recently read Professor William Sage's essay, "Brand New Law! The Need to Market Health Care Reform," which discusses the idea of "legal brand equity" as analogous to commercial brand equity in "describing the functional, emotional, and expressive relationship between the law and its intended beneficiaries." Professor Sage argues that the branding of major American social legislation is critical to its success and offers ideas for healthcare (e.g. AmeriCare instead of ObamaCare). How is the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau ("Bureau") doing on creating a brand among Americans?  

 I think there is a strong branding effort underway at the Bureau. Consider the logo displayed on the website, which is a far cry from the typical government-as-usual circle shape with tiny lettering around it. In its place at the Bureau is a shield shape that resonates very much with Elizabeth Warren's analogy of the Bureau as providing a "cop on the beat" and with descriptions of Warren and like-minded regulators as "The New Sheriffs of Wall Street." The Bureau, whether consciously or not, also has been following marketing professionals' advice of making functional, emotional, and expressive statements about itself to develop a brand in the public, making statements like "What I hope to do is give -- literally -- millions of American families better tools to be able to tell what the financial products that they deal with cost, what the risks are associated with them, and to be able to compare one product to another."  These statements explain the Bureau and help people connect to the purpose and work of the Bureau. Warren herself is a master of these messages,  and therein may ultimately be the challenge. In some ways, Elizabeth Warren herself is the brand equity of the Bureau, and she is an effective brand--memorable, clear, and capable of making consumers feel good about themselves and about government. Warren is assembling an impressive group of people at the Bureau and increasingly those people are doing brand-building work, such as video interviews about issues or themselves on the Bureau website. But at this point, it is very much Elizabeth Warren (™) that is the Bureau's brand equity. This means that the the biggest problem with any other candidate for Director is likely to be the loss of Elizabeth Warren (™) in the minds of the public. The federal government currently has little brand equity overall and what it does have is under attack by the anti-government branding efforts. The Administration should not risk diminishing the brand equity of the Bureau, and by extension, the administration's efforts at social legislation with a director other than Warren. No successful business would ever fail to seize brand equity on the magnitude of Warren's popularity; this is one instance where I'll advocate that government look to private industry as a model and build up its brand by leveraging Elizabeth Warren to its advantage. 

 

Comments

Hi Katie,
Please contact rbarnett@seekingalpha.com at your soonest convenience to discuss the possibility of joining the author community at Seeking Alpha.

Regards,
Rebecca Barnett
Seeking Alpha Editor

The first shots have already been fired in a Battle of the Brands between Warren and her detractors.

The simple truth is that she is being mothballed by a monumental sell-out of a presidency at the urging of financial industry cronies. Her brand threatens to be stronger than that of the presidency.

I agree with you Transor on the point that her brand is a potential threat to presidency.

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