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Rebuilding Brand America
By: Dick Martin

What We Must Do to Restore Our Reputation and Safeguard the Future of American Business Abroad

Dick Martin challenges business leaders to accept their share of responsibility for re-affirming our nation’s core values and competence.  He confronts this critical topic from a marketing perspective, backed by his decades of experience as a corporate public relations and brand management specialist.  He also cites hard numbers from international surveys and draws policy recommendations from a consensus across 29 studies of public diplomacy conducted by the Government Accountability Office, the Council on Foreign Relations, the Brookings Institution, the Heritage Foundation, and the Center for the Study of the Presidency, and other distinguished organizations.                   

As Martin makes clear, anti-Americanism is a complex mixture of emotions, including envy and anger, provoked by a range of faults and offenses, both real and imagined.  The antidote isn’t pumping out more information, packaging it more seductively or changing policy to win a hypothetical popularity contest.  “The real issue is understanding,” Martin stresses.  “Not primarily others’ understanding of America, but America understands of them.”                                                                                     

To get to the root of our global image problem, Rebuilding Brand America begins with a brief history of anti-Americanism, from the earliest days of its formation in Colonial times to current variations in Europe, Asia, Africa, South America, and the Middle East.  Focusing on the common feelings behind different political, economic, cultural, social and psychological reasons, Martin explains why recent initiatives—including the State Department appointment of advertising legend Charlotte Beers to sell democracy—failed.  In both private campaigns and government task forces, U.S. reform efforts overwhelmingly lack a vital awareness of their foreign audience.                          

Martin shares revelations from his conversations with anti-anti-Americans, including Keith Reinhard, president of Business for Diplomatic Action, and spotlights the public diplomacy accomplishments of Karen Hughes.  He also shows how some of the most successful companies in the U.S. – GE, IBM, Intel, KFC, McDonald’s, MTV, Nike, Starbucks, P&G and UPS among them – are working to strengthen America’s brand appeal and power across the globe.  Martin underscores three imperative practices of brand leaders:                                                                                                

    Sink roots, don’t just spread branches, which includes hiring local managers and taking care to avoid collisions with local cultures, customs, and business practices.

    • Share your customers’ cares, with a commitment greater than “charity” to social responsibility, social activism, community values and the public good.    

    • Share your customers’ dreams, which involves creating new brand myths by identifying with customers’ attitudes and aspirations. 

Encouraging America’s business leaders to work with each other and with their government, Martin concludes with a ten-point action plan for political reform.  His world-changing goals include expanding educational and cultural exchanges in countries where perceptions of America are most poor.

“The idea that America has ‘publics’ outside its own borders, whose needs, interests and expectations it should take into account, may be too novel for some, but it is at the heart of curing anti-Americanism,” Martin contends.  Through REBUILDING BRAND AMERICA, he offers the promise of reinvigorating the United States as a powerful, prosperous nation the world is proud to work with.

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