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Two-Way Look at America's Brand Changeover

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Good riddance 2008. Bring on January, named for the two-faced Roman god linked to ends and doors. This god gave his name also to the janitors who keep our doorways clear.

Dead-ends are what we see all around in Mumbai in the surprise U.S. hit Slumdog Millionaire. The story is about the persistence of hope in the "slumdog" Jamal (did the appealing actor playing the young Jamal remind anyone else of photos of young Barack Obama in Hawaii and Jakarta?), who grows up in a poor part of Mumbai, watched over by his mother until she is killed. We see Jamal when he is older, a lowly chaiwalla worker, never having given up hope of getting his girl, and going on the Millionaire show to do it.

A door opens for the United States on January 20, when Brand America comes under new management. My friend Patt Cottingham, a branding expert with Genuine Imprints , has created a year-end image of the changeover, a two-way look at Goodbye and Hello. 2009-01-05-ReclaimingArt500x500rev.jpg

Patt's two-way look is a powerful image, told, like all history, from the perspective of the winning party. The backward look is full of specific ills. The forward look is mostly about our wish for better. Like Jamal at the end of Slumdog, our President-elect has won - fair and square - command over huge resources. Getting as far as he has is an amazing victory. The President-elect now faces multiple wars and a frozen economy. He has our collective hope that he succeed, and that's a lot.