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Brand Marketing Lessons from Donald Trump

Human Brand Branding

There are brands we love, and then there are those we absolutely loathe. So. Much. Like… 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 Presidential-wannabe to the presumptive Republican nominee has been nothing short of phenomenal

While we’re not condoning any of his viewpoints or ideas, at times we’ve got to give him credit where credit’s due – he’s been trending for almost a year now, 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 and take note of politics again – not just Americans, but also the millenials and everyone around the world.

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’ is coming up 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?

 

1. 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.

 

2. Trump is an arrogant egomaniac

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Speaking objectively with our personal biases aside (it isn’t easy, trust us), Donald Trump’s aggressiveness, arrogance and insensitivity is the perfect personality fit for a brand like his.

He doesn’t opt for political-correctness nor does he shy away from controversy – boldly making statements like:

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

Of course, we aren’t suggesting that extreme, aggressive 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 egomaniacal actions, resulting in him delivering a more compelling and believable message

In the case of Trump, his brand values are (assumed to be) elitism, intolerance of the minorities and the entitlement of the ‘true’ American citizen.

 

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, copywriting, key messages, culture, etc.

 

3. Trump is a Relationships expert

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Trump's ex-wives and current wife

While his personal relationships would probably not make the best case studies the relationships he keeps with those associated with the Donald Trump brand could make for more outstanding examples.

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, but these people, in fact, intensify the loyalty of his (brilliantly identified) existing consumers (think Apple and Android users). 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, and invest emotionally, into the relationships with your stakeholders – they will notice.
  • There is no need to bother with your non-audiences – focus on strengthening your relationships with your target audiences.

 


 

While we have our doubts about Donald Trump’s true authenticity in making America great again, we do find certain levels of amusement towards his brand of entertainment, and more so as a fascinating successful branding case study.

Political commentary aside, Donald Trump should really be the benchmark your brands strive to work towards (do NOT quote this out of context!). But does your current brand own a good mix of a unique story, fitting personality and invested relationships? Here’s a short quiz for you to find out!

 

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