Love him? Hate him? Fear him? Personally I’m not a fan but regardless of my, or your, opinion on the newly elected president of the US, none of us can deny the overwhelming power of Donald Trump’s personal brand.
His brand strategy throughout the presidential race was unparalleled by any of his competitors and is undoubtedly why he, an incredibly divisive candidate with no political experience and a comedic reality TV past, is the next president of the United States.
So how did Trump position his personal brand and what can we learn from this?
Firstly, Donald consistently remained vague throughout the race, using simple ideas which were easy to absorb and connect with. His infamous slogan “make America great again” is the perfect example of this – a general statement that plays on people’s nostalgia for ‘the good old days’.
Secondly, rather than trying to appeal to the general American population, Trump identified a niche target audience – the white working class male. His entire strategy focused on understanding and attracting this demographic, drawing on their concerns and needs, and creating a base of hard-core supporters. Trump’s extreme opinions and actions were crucial in appealing to this ‘neglected’ group who viewed him as an anti-establishment candidate that ‘says it as it is’ and would create real change. So powerful was this strategy that even when fact checkers called Trump out on his lies, millions of his supporters stood by him and continued to vouch for his ‘transparency.’ Whilst this behaviour (amongst other things) has turned Trump into a symbol of hatred and fear for many, it ultimately proved a better tactic than Hillary’s attempt to be moderately liked by everyone.
Finally, what Trump did better than any other presidential candidate was negatively branding his rivals in order to make himself look better. For example, portraying Hillary Clinton as a crook and tarnishing her brand as one of deceit and criminality, strengthened and differentiated his brand as being ‘honest’ and ‘better’ than the rest.
The overwhelming success of these strategies in getting a racist bigot with terrible hair elected as the US president just goes to show how far the right personal brand can take you. So whilst the world waits with baited breath for President Trump to take up office in January, we should seek to learn from the newly elected president – keep it simple, understand and focus on your target audience, and set yourself apart from the competition by positioning yourself as different and better.