Brand Marketing Lessons from Donald Trump

There are brands we love, and then there are those we absolutely loathe. And then there’s… Donald Trump. 

But love him or hate him, Trump is undeniably one of the world’s most successful brands, and his meteoric rise from a TV personality to the President of the United States of America has been nothing short of phenomenal. 

 

While we do not stand by any of his viewpoints or ideas, we’ve got to give him credit where credit’s due — he’s perpetually trending on Twitter, and he’s also the top politician with the highest number of political rally video recordings going viral. Most importantly, he’s made everyone sit up and take note of politics again — not just Americans, but also everyone around the world, world leaders and laymen alike.  

 

His political run has been akin to that of a successful marketing campaign, with his name acting as the brand, and his supporters being his ever-faithful consumers. Seems like ‘The Donald’ has managed to wrestle to the top as the market leader in the industry of American politics.  

 

So, as branding strategists and marketeers, what can  we learn from his wildly-successful campaigns? 

 

Trump has, undeniably, a unique and memorable story

 

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The Apprentice (U.S TV Show) Logo

 

Donald Trump’s campaign focuses a lot, or even entirely, on his (debatable) successes as a businessman. His name and face has become more than just a representation of him and his company, but that of wealth and success – achieved through his use of popular culture, including his stint in the hit reality TV show ‘The Apprentice’, and other aspects like rap songs, fast food commercials, beauty pageants, and a whole lot of internet memes.

 

This has allowed him to stand out from the rest of his political peers (or rather, foes) who might not have had as much screen time prior to their campaigning. Sanders, Clinton and Cruz may have been involved in the field of American politics far earlier than Trump, but they are nowhere as memorable (or as recognised as he is.)

 

Aside from his all-American desire to ‘Make America Great Again’, Trump’s story resonates especially well with those who aspire the wealth and success he achieved in the non-political arena.

 

KEY TAKEAWAYS:
  • · Having a core purpose and a unique selling proposition is powerful.
  • · Associating your brand with that of a trait desirable to your consumers increases their loyalty.

 

  • Trump is an arrogant egomaniac

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Speaking objectively with our personal preferences aside, Donald Trump’s aggressiveness, arrogance and insensitivity is the perfect personality fit for a brand like his. 

 

Hedoesn’t opt for political-correctness nor does he shy away from controversy — boldly making statements like: 


  • · “The beauty of me is that I’m very rich."
  • · “My Twitter has become so powerful that I can actually make my enemies tell the truth.”
  • · “You know, it really doesn't matter what the media writes as long as you've got a young and beautiful piece of ass."

 

  • Of course, we aren’t suggesting that extreme personalities are the way to go for your brand  the point here is that an outward expression of your brand core and values is good branding practice. He re-emphasises these values through his statements and actions, resulting in him delivering a more compelling and believable message. 

  •  
  • In the case of Trump, his brand values are the entitlement of the ‘true’ American citizen

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  • KEY TAKEAWAYS:

  • · Think about your brand values and create a personality that conveys these

  • · Embrace your personality, and convey it through all mediums and touchpoints, including design, key messages, culture, etc. 

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Trump is a relationships expert

 

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Trump's supporters

 

His rise in the political arena could be attributed to many factors, but that one big reason would be how he manages the relationships with stakeholders  supporters, competitors and the media. These relationships may spark strong and extremely polarising emotions, but they also are, without a doubt, still authentic and deeply emotionally-vested ones,which all brands should strive to achieve.  

 

Of course, Trump has his (more than) fair share of haters. However, these people, in fact,  help to intensify the loyaltyof his fan base (think the long-standing Apple and Android camps). This intensified loyalty naturally drives word-of-mouth marketing, which is much coveted in the marketing world. He’s even earned close to $2 billion worth of free media attention during his campaign, completely eclipsing the total value of that earned by all of his other Republican competitors combined. And that says a lot. 

 

KEY TAKEAWAYS: 
  • · Pay attention to the relationships with your stakeholders, and invest emotionally — they will notice 
  • · There is no need to bother with your non-audiences (haters) — focus on strengthening your relationships with your target audiences 

 

Make marketing great again 

 

Regardless of your view on Donald Trump, one cannot deny that his story makes a fascinating (with great amusement) and successful branding case study. Political commentary aside, Donald Trump should really bethe benchmark your brands strive to work towards (do NOT quote this out of context!).  

 

Does your current brand own a good mix of a unique story, fitting personality and invested relationships? Try our ‘How Human is Your Brand’ questionnaire to find out!  

 

Human Brand Questionnaire

 

Note: This post was originally published before Donald Trump became the President of the United States of America.   

 

 

Written by Rachel Goh 

Updated by Hanson Ng (Nov 2019)

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