US flag

Last week, the United States celebrated the 236th anniversary of its declaration as a free and sovereign nation. Though it took another five to six years to win that freedom through a draining and bitterly fought war with the dominant army of the era, in the US, we consider July 4th the birth of the nation. That seems like a long time. In the grand scheme, it is not nearly as impressive as other countries in the world like England, Japan or China. Their history goes back well over a thousand years for the youngest. But it is the brand that makes the country seem more dominant.

As the Summer Olympic games lurk around the corner, we can’t help but see the dominance of branding in the national pride. For that matter, the games themselves have a branding that is easily recognized even at 2500 feet as you fly into London’s Heathrow airport as crop circles cut into a field on the approach. The five interlocking rings are as ubiquitous as the Rising Sun, the Union Jack or the Stars and Stripes.

All of this got us to thinking of how prevalent the branding experience is in our cultures. This is not just the flag to which we follow, it moves into the individual branches of the government as well. For instance, even the Army, Navy and Marines have a brand, and then the sub-branches of those have brands. We ran across a marine with the first reconnaissance division recently and his workout outfit was branded to the motto and identification of that elite group. They are no different than a corporation using a logo to identify themselves uniquely and instantaneously. It is amazing how we have progressed from following the banner some 236 years ago to the prevalence of that symbol and its off-shoots now.

When we look at branding around an event like the Olympics, we shouldn’t overlook the general every day world where your brand can be used and identified with for marketing purposes, however subtle it may be. Governments have been doing this for centuries and the use of those symbols are ingrained subconsciously into our lives. It is not out of the question to follow that lead and use their experience for your company’s identification.

So, when you root for your country’s athletes as they compete for the gold starting at the end of the month, look for the symbols of the other nations and see how many of them are as uniquely identifiable as your own. That is, evaluate how well their marketing permeates your world.

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