This paper argues that states needing to engage in short-term strategic manipulation of their identity will often turn to branding strategies. Branding allows leaders the flexibility to adopt new roles or reimagine existing roles to fit with the current security environment. Drawing on insights from role theory, social identity, and branding, we develop a theoretical framework to understand how leaders innovate in roles. We apply this framework to two episodes of Argentine–US relations. The first case focuses on the Argentine role of active independent (1933–1945) despite US efforts to ascribe the faithful ally role. Only near the conclusion of the war did Perón transition to an ally partner role for strategic reasons and without much of a branding strategy. The second case is that of Argentina's adoption of the faithful ally role with the United States accompanied by a strong branding strategy under President Menem beginning in 1989. While innovation in the first case was possible without branding (though short-lived), the second case shows a more substantive transformation in Argentina's role set. Branding helps to carve out space in the role set for new roles that may compete with existing ones and ensure their successful adoption and enactment.