Will “W” Always Mean Failure? A Brand Question

This is a NOT a political discussion.


It’s about branding.  Has the letter ‘W’ been soiled forever by the current US president?


George W. Bush has branded himself ‘W’.  You still see it on stickers here in Arizona.  Has the sun baked them onto cars so that they can’t be peeled off? 😉


His approval rating is the lowest ever.  His insider Scott McClelland told the truth, and it isn’t pretty.  His legacy is mocked today by a cartoon calling him clueless.


Whither ‘W’?


If you were the W Hotel, would you sue?  If W. Edwards Deming were still alive, he’d certainly issue a failed report card on quality.  Will we now always equate the letter W with ‘miserable failure’ and ‘worst president ever’?


Yes for a while, but no not forever.


The Edsel remains a losing image because no one has come in and tried to spin it back positive.  The car also had essentially 100% ownership of the word Edsel.  It’s been 50 years, and it still cries ‘loser’.


The letter W will have it easier because not only have other people shared brand equity for the letter, others will now jump in and work to rebuild positive brand equity. 


The W Hotel will do their best to strengthen ‘W’, and others with ‘W’ in their names will give us other images more positive than this current president gives us today.  Oh, and George will fade into the sunset, too.


The lesson?  The Bush spinmeisters did their best to make ‘W’ seem like a winner.  In the end the product must match the promise.  It didn’t.  When the product perception is less than the brand promise, the brand equity declines. 


Marketers can only go so far in building a brand.  In the end the product really does matter.


There’s no salvaging George.


But W – that’s a different story.  Let’s let George exit stage left and root for the W Hotel to build back our faith in the letter W.  It’ll happen much faster than for the Edsel.



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