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What President William Henry Harrison Can Teach Brands

February 3, 2022

Caricature of U.S. president William Henry Harrison line drawing, flat color, final, how to draw him in three steps

I’ve been researching some obscure United States presidents.blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

People only remember William Henry Harrison for two things: his snappy campaign slogan, and the fact that he died after only 32 days in office– the shortest U.S. presidency ever.blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

Surprisingly, he offers some important brand lessons.blank vertical space, 24 pixels high

In 1840 Harrison became the nominee for the new Whig Party, and won the presidency by defeating the incumbent, Martin Van Buren.blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

What made Harrison a contender? He was already famous. In 1811, he’d defeated an Indian Confederacy at the Battle of Tippecanoe in what is now Indiana.blank vertical space, 24 pixels high

Lesson 1: For a brand, there’s no substitute for fame.blank vertical space, 24 pixels high

Famous brands have an enormous advantage over non-famous brands. They have name recognition. Bob Hoffman, “The Ad Contrarian,” says the principle job of advertising is to create fame.blank vertical space, 24 pixels high

During the 1840 campaign, an opposition newspaper mocked Harrison as a rube who’d be happy sitting by a fire, drinking hard cider.blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

Harrison’s campaign strategists seized on this and portrayed Harrison as a simple frontiersman in contrast to Van Buren whom they portrayed as a champagne-sipping aristocrat.blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

What makes this funny: Harrison was born into one of the wealthiest and most politically prominent families in Virginia. His father served three terms as governor.blank vertical space, 24 pixels high

Lesson 2: “Brand story” is a tricky concept. You’re trying to forge an emotional connection with your target audience. Maybe you’re an aristocrat and a frontiersman. You have to decide which story to tell.blank vertical space, 24 pixels high

The Whig campaign handed out free hard cider in little bottles shaped like log cabins at campaign rallies. They also used rhymes.blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

Thanks to his famous victory, Harrison had acquired the nickname, “Old Tippecanoe.” Some marketing genius came up with the slogan “Tippecanoe and Tyler, too.” (John Tyler was Harrison’s running mate.)

blank vertical space, 24 pixels highLesson 3: Giveaways get attention and reinforce your image. Hard cider, log cabin-shaped bottles => simple frontiersman.blank vertical space, 24 pixels high

Lesson 4: Rhymes work. But today’s advertising agencies don’t use rhymes. They consider rhymes dated, uncool. That’s a foolish, elitist attitude. A clever rhyme, sticks in
your mind.blank vertical space, 24 pixels high

Was his dying so soon after being elected just a coincidence? Probably not.blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

He gave an inaugural address that lasted almost 2 hours, outside, on a cold, wet day. No coat, no hat. He caught a cold which developed into pneumonia, and he died a month later.blank vertical space, 24 pixels high

Lesson 5: Brand image is important, but there’s such a thing as being too macho. Wear your coat and hat, play the long game.blank vertical space, 24 pixels high

Lesson 6: Keep it short. People stop listening to presentations after 7-10 minutes. I think a similar rule applies to posts.blank vertical space, 24 pixels high

You hear the argument: Google gives more points to longer posts. Maybe so, but how many people will read the whole thing? We skim long posts.blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

Keep it short, be witty, make your point and get out.
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About Mark: I’m an illustrator specializing in humor, branding, social media, and content marketing. My images are different, like your brand needs to be.blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

You can view my portfolio, and connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

Questions? Send me an email.blank vertical space, 40 pixels highRecommendation testimonial for Mark Armstrong Illustration from David Yas, Founder & CEO, Boston Podcast Network, former V.P. Publisher, Mass Lawyers Weekly

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7 Comments leave one →
  1. February 3, 2022 12:42 PM

    I can think of a few Prime Ministers and Presidents who might have done us all a favour if they had only been in power for 32 days…


    • February 4, 2022 12:41 PM

      Haw!! Gosh, that made me laugh, Margy!!– great quip, and I know you weren’t joking, and I couldn’t agree more!! Always great to see you– thanks!! 😊

      Liked by 1 person

  2. February 5, 2022 5:02 PM

    Greetings, Mark! I’ll keep it short. I’ve got nothing witty. My point is that I miss blogging and think I’m coming back, so I’ll see you more often. And I’m outta here! (Well, almost. I enjoyed your post. All nicely tied together.)


    • February 7, 2022 12:54 PM

      Wow!!– wot a wunnaful shock to my system!!– a comment from Maddie C., legendary mystery novelist!! Delighted to see you, my dear Maddie, and I hope you are well. Thanks so much for dropping in like a bombshell, and I shall keep me peepers peeled for your imminent (???) return to blogging!! (But hey, no pressure, and I do mean that sincerely. Do what’s right for you.) 👍💪😊

      Liked by 1 person

      • February 9, 2022 4:09 PM

        Oh, I’m coming back, dearest Mark! With a bang! I hope to put my first post up on Monday – IF I get my next cover from my cover artist. AND – I had an author head shot taken. You will finally get to see what this old broad looks like!! Can’t wait! And it will be such a plus to be in touch with you again. 🙂


        • February 12, 2022 11:39 AM

          Sounds fab, my dear Maddie!! Your absence has caused the blogosphere to go into steep decline– your return may yet save it!! Old broad??– nonsense! Why that would make me an old geezer, and that can’t possibly be true, even tho my mirror tells me otherwise… 😬💦 Stay breezy!! 🌬👍😊

          Liked by 1 person


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