• Sunil Sharma

Donald Trump is the King of Branding

Regardless of your personal views on Donald Trump, he is a branding genius.

ABC News

“He’s a master brander, and he’s the most interesting character out there” — BIll Clinton

Trump’s success prior to him running for office was evident with him selling his name to other people’s products across the globe. His early success was largely as a real estate developer but he was almost ruined after a flurry of poor investment choices e.g. Atlantic City. He survived by changing the dynamics of the Trump Organisation by making it a branding company where the Trump name is on projects whose costs and risks are done by others. He has understood that perception can overwhelm reality.

President Donald Trump has an understanding of who he wants to be and how he wants to be portrayed by the media as well as how the public receives him. Trump is arguably still a businessman who is using his marketing skills to look to build and gain more followers for his political career.

He has used his whole life to build himself into the most powerful man in the world and it wouldn’t have worked had he not understand the importance of branding. Every step taken in his life has been with the ideology of building the Donald Trump brand. The “Make America Great Again” movement or marketing a product is an opportunity for Trump to build his brand power and he has proven to be a master of that.

It has been well known that Donald Trump started with funding from his father and decided to grow the Trump name into a more commercial brand. He regularly bought and sold real estate across New York, founded Trump University and sold Trump Streaks. This helped him create an image that he is a strong confident leader in business with an assuring family name that enabled him to have credibility with his projects.

Many businesses failed and he even filed for bankruptcy on the Taj Mahal Casino but he was always able to use his failures as important stages for his success. During these times of turmoil, he maintained stability even as he lost millions as he went on to publish “The Art of the Deal” focusing on his business practices. This helped paint the picture of him being an expert in business and almost a symbol of capitalism. He always worked with the entertainment industry to help build his celebrity image. A good example of this was him working with the WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment) where he played a masculine and firm character. Another huge role for Trump was his role in “The Apprentice”. Trump was able to show himself as a successful businessman who had a ruthless side to him. He had now made his brand recognisable to the world especially in pop culture. Trump was becoming more known for his no-nonsense approach and portrayed the type of leader he would be.

Fast forward to 2015, Donald Trump was now a presidential candidate for the Republican Party. He continued to use his branding approach of “straight talking” and having little concern for political correctness. MAGA (Make America Great Again) played a vital role as it enabled him to move his personal brand into a political one. An interesting fact is that Trump applied for a trademark MAGA (Make America Great Again) in November 7th 2012. This was 5 days after Mitt Romney had lost to Barack Obama. Roger Stone was instilled to help grow the MAGA brand whilst translating the idea of Trump stands for the everyday working class person. The 2016 win proved the power of the Donald Trump brand.

Confidence — No matter what Trump is saying, there are huge amounts of confidence behind every word. The level confidence Trump displays, very few people have. It is truly powerful as it means people pay more attention to what you’re saying. Conviction is the strongest way to ensure people truly believe into your brand.

Extremism- Unlike many leaders such as Macron, Trump’s brand is extreme. He is unapologetic; his tweets tend to include exclamation marks showing the emotions in each of them. He has polarised audiences with emotionally charged messages where some view him with hatred, others with hope.

Authenticity- Trump’s authenticity stems from his courage to defend all of his measures even if seen as radical. People respect this as often politicians seek to please people. Trump is clearly not crazy. Many people underestimated him, but considering how far he has come, he truly is a branding genius.

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