There is perhaps no surer signal that Democrats are about to suffer a terrific defeat than to see liberals begin discussing how to define, redefine, or otherwise burnish their 'brand.' So far as I'm concerned, this falls firmly in the 'doesn't matter' category of American politics. In 2004, all liberals could talk about was the power of the conservative brand, and George Lakoff became an icon because of it. In 2006 and 2008, better branding didn't save Republicans from being devastated in the polls, leading Democrats to the first 60-vote Senate majority since the 1970s. So much for brands.
The word 'liberal' is not popular, it has never been popular, and I do not expect that it ever will be popular. But liberalism -- and the politicians who support it -- are doing just fine. Not in any given election, of course, but over time. It's not obvious that a stronger brand has done much for the right, nor that it has seriously hampered the left. Branding might be important. But product matters more.
(Via Ezra Klein.)