Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek.


We humans like to think of ourselves as wise and sophisticated.

Then we go and pick our noses in public and think no one will see us.

Still, we fancy we can see through a lot of things and understand how the world works. And if there's one thing we really don't like, it's when other people think they can fool us.

Yet brands come along and act as if the most profitable common denominator were the lowest.

I sat in many meetings with CMOs who offered this deep wisdom: "Well, I love it, but I want someone less intelligent like my mom to get it."

Which brings me to Jeb Bush. He may well be the most intelligent of the Bushes. He may also be worried that you know he's a Bush.

His strategy, therefore, is to get you to forget. Or, at least, to believe something that isn't.

In a marvelous sleight of hand and brain, he announced his candidacy and used a logo that happened not to include his last name.

Critics have, quite naturally, wondered just how much Bush wants to mask the fact that he's a Bush. One might reasonably also wonder whether that's possible.

It's not as if a logo can suddenly hide your short and very memorable last name and its long and interesting history.

But my problem isn't so much with the fact that his logo is Bushless. I worry that it's the opposite of who he really is.

Essentially, I'm struggling with that exclamation point.

I know you'll tell me that he's used that exclamation point since he ran for governor in the last century. But exclamation points in logos are very last century.

Jeb! ran for governor with this logo in 1994. Guess which brand created something similar in the same year? Why, Yahoo. Or, rather Yahoo!

At least Yahoo! went all the way and offered you a yodel to express its sheer giddy level of silliness.

Listen to Jeb Bush speak and it's like the chairman of the Organization of US Committees Committee Organizing Committee's Organizing Committee.

He is no giddy howler.

This is not necessarily a bad thing. It may well be that we need a sober, calculating president who offers a dispassionate analysis to go with our algorithmic times. It may well be that we need a sense of experience and considered judgment.

Jeb! will surely present himself as a calm hand on the nuclear button and a caring heart that wouldn't ever, ever interfere with your private life.

But his logo is offering you all the speedy excitement of a cartoon. It's offering you the roll-around knockabout mood of a Disney comedy. It's telling you he wants us to go back to 1994. (Or even earlier.)

It's not true to the brand. (Or at least the brand as it's being expressed in speeches.)

Perhaps, therefore, when you see your own brand up in lights, it should express who you really are, not how you'd like to fool people.


Published on: Jun 15, 2015