Powerful brands stand for one thing or another, not one thing and another. Consumers make choices based on what they perceive this one thing to be. A strong, focused brand idea helps consumers filter through their options. Pepsi is the cola choice for a new generation. Coke is the traditional cola. Volvo is the car of choice for safety seekers. Porsche is for performance seekers. In the recent 2008 Presidential Imagepower ® Survey released by Landor and research firm Penn, Schoen & Berland, it seems that consumers are beginning to perceive both Obama and McCain as standing for more or less the same thing; change. The lines of distinction between the two presidential candidates are getting blurrier which could pose a problem. The thing is, while McCain has been gradually morphing his message from maverick to change agent, Obama signaled from the get-go that he was the candidate of change. His brand idea has been consistent from day one which, from my vantage point as a branding professional, makes his brand persona a bit more credible. When consumers are given the choice of two brands that make the same promise, they are more apt to go with the one that established the promise first. Once people associate a brand with a specific idea, it’s hard to get them to move away from this association. McCain had a simple, strong maverick of an idea. Trying to marry it with the idea of change is confusing to voters. Powerful brands stand for one thing or another, not one thing and another. As we get closer to the election, my advice is that both candidates stick to the one idea that they want voters to take to the voting booth.