We Fix Your Brand: 07 Jeb! Bush
Goodness, have we done half a dozen rebrands already? Indeed we have! And now it’s time to take a look at one of the 2016 campaign seasons great unknowns. A secretive contestant known only by his exciting first name: Jeb!. [Yes, we ended that sentence with a period. Three guesses why.]
Admit it. Those of you over 40 hear Daisy May Moses screaming this out every time you look at it. Still, there probably isn’t a voter in this country that doesn’t know who Jeb Bush is. Despite laying low in Florida behind that lackluster job market, his secret identity has somehow been sussed by those pesky, meddling kids. Damn bloggers! But what exactly is the story behind this brand of bland flavored potato chips?
It all started back in 2002 when future political poison pill Mike Murphy was picked to run a gubernatorial campaign for plain old Jeb Bush. Murphy had a marketing brainstorm: divorce the candidate from his past by 1) burying his surname in a box under an oak tree at new moon and 2) create faux buzz by pasting a big exclamation point where it used to be! It was a strategy that went over like sliced bread with decaying retirees, their brains weakened by the harsh Floridian sun, and candidate Jeb! was born!
That the strategy was accepted by the campaign at all is incredible in itself because Murphy had crashed and burned it in 1995 with Lamar!. Who? The Presidential Candidate Formerly Known As Lamar Alexander. Unfortunately, even though Alexander wasn’t ashamed of his surname and the idea was actually viable for a relative unknown, the country wasn’t buying Murphy’s oil-soaped excitement. What we have here is a brand that apparently works on just one level. Local. Disagree? Tell us, where are Jeb!’s poll number right now? Yeah, moving on…
Let’s face it, this is as forced and boring as when Yahoo! launched it in 1995. Cripes, it’s even the same shade of red. [We really don’t care who stole whose idea. Google it if you must, but keep it to yourself.] Here’s a screenie:
It’s easier to find Waldo than Jeb! on this page. And check out that big slogan in the center; bright, huge, clear, bold type that screams for an exclamation point and… bupkiss! You may as well set it in lower case twelve-point courier and make it 50% gray. This is a baker’s dozen of ho-hum. If you’re going to run your brand on a gimmick, aim for consistency.
Now designers will tell you that a good logo should convey the essence of the product. This is mostly trade babble used to justify astronomical paychecks, but there is a grain of truth there. So what does Jeb! tell us about the product? That it’s easily excited? That it’s imperfectly assymetrical? That it’s going to grab 2016 with both feet and never let go? Or that the product, Jeb!, is hiding from reality. Not only has he dropped his toxic surname, but Jeb isn’t even his real name! I polled two dozen alcoholics and only three guessed his real first name. Go ahead, guess! Nope, it’s John. John Ellis Bush. Get it? J-E-B.
And that’s where you need to start the brand! Not as some folksy nickname with fake punctuation thumbtacked to it. Here’s our solution to what we still view as a relatively weak concept:
Dump the fuddy-duddy, weak-chinned, redneckiness and misshapen punctuation of Baskerville for the bold strength and downright uprightness of Minion Black! Three capital letters which relay the nickname and enforce the initials, underscored by three stars and three stripes [a hidden triple exclamation!!!] representing the three Bushes who would be King! You can’t escape your past so use it, brother! Put it right there in front, warts and all, and show the people you aren’t afraid or ashamed of anything or anyone! But, as they say on the infomercials, there’s more!
Holy Hannah! Did you know the middle letters of your last name are the shorthand initials of our very own country? [We’re certain someone tried this years ago, but we didn’t feel like researching today so we’re claiming it as our own.] So here we have initials hidden in words made out of initials, like a textual Mobius loop! [We can’t wait to ask our therapist what we think of this!] Put it all together and you get JE [Jeb] Bush: US President! You don’t need a fake exclamatory in the graphic because the graphic itself implies the excitement! It’s true! Look at all the exclamations here in this paragraph! Seven! No, wait, eight! Hang on… OK, nine. We’ll leave it at nine. [And that’s three times three…]
We aren’t all that excited about you dragging Murphy out of his coffin, so maybe you could call us personally about this, kk? We promise not to tell him!