Whether or not she becomes our next president, with her distinctive look and style, Hillary Clinton can teach us a lot about branding.
1. Don't take criticism personally: I can't think of another political figure who stirs up as much emotion as Hillary does. But whatever people say, she seems to rise above it, even as she responds forcefully. Whether you are building a brand, sustaining it, or defending it, don't let your critics get your goat.
2. Know your subject matter: Say what you want about her, but Hillary knows her stuff. When you are promoting your brand, be a subject matter expert. Speak knowledgeably about whatever it is you're selling. Image alone is not enough.
3. Look the part: Again, say what you want about her, but Hillary looks like a president. Her hairstyle, her clothing, her demeanor, all bespeak presidentiality. When you aspire to promote a brand, it is critical that your look match the brand image.
4. Play to the center: Although I agree with the premise of Purple Cow by Seth Godin, that only remarkable products and services stand a chance of survival, I also see the merits of toning down one's distinctiveness to be acceptable to a mass market. Hillary has intelligently moderated her image so that she appears to be centrist rather than aggressively left-leaning. And I believe that has won her additional support.
5. Don't apologize, explain: She will not apologize for supporting the war. And she is right to uphold her actions, because she believed in them at the time. Remember -- unless the brand has violated its own promise, in which case an immediate apology is warranted, it is best to maintain an image of consistency by explaining where the brand is coming from rather than resorting to an apology for unpopular choices.
It has also been pointed out (http://www.russpage.net/the-hillary-clinton-brand-iraq/) that Hillary is consistent in her messaging: "Tell it again and again, and tell it the same way"--another sign of a strong brand.
For those who are interested, here is an article on Hillary's unique political brand: http://www.thenation.com/doc/20050606/sargent.