A Crisis in the USA Brand?

Q: My global clients won’t openly discuss the US political situation and I don’t either.  However, US politics are the elephant in the room.  Our brand strength rests on “truth, beauty and the American way” and now it seems much harder to close deals. Without being political, how can I address their concerns?

A:  It is difficult to tiptoe around the elephant in the room; I have always noticed that attempts to do so are not successful.  Why?   When you avoid a subject, your behavior changes—the same way your behavior changes when you have a bad hand in poker. And, unfortunately your changed behavior is amplified—more noticeable—if a subject that was once OK to discuss is now off limits.  So, if all of your previous meetings with your international clients began with news about the United States, including politics, now is not the time to change your behavior.

You don’t have to worry about being political if you stick to the facts about what happening in the USA and if you keep your emotions and opinions in check.  Take a business case approach and consider the following:

  • What is the possible business impact of USA politics on your client?
  • What are the market dynamics? Trade issues? Policy changes?
  • Will it affect the flow of goods and services?
  • Will changing immigration polices be an issue?

Check the strength and relevancy of your relationship and offering:

  • What are the brand attributes at the core of your product or service?
  • Is the USA “brand” still appropriate for your client?
  • Are the characteristics of the brand relevant to the ways In which you interact with your international client?
  • Is your product or service out of sync with your client’s needs?

Continue to be attuned to the dynamics of our political situation and ensure that the integrity of your brand remains true and is executed in a way that celebrates the “American way.” When you do that, no politics are needed.

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