What Donald Trump Can Teach Us about Branding and Marketing

What Donald Trump Can Teach Us about Branding and Marketing

The 1970 Gremlin was supposed to be the most dynamic subcompact car ever.

The Not-A-Politician Brand

So roughly a year ago, a bunch of friends and I could do nothing but make jokes about Donald Trump running for president. It seemed so silly! This self-promoter from The Apprentice who takes pride in saying he’s rich (very rich), who questioned Obama’s birthplace—he thinks he can run for president? Yes. To the amazement of many, including expert political advisors—yes.

I kept pondering his shameless self-promotion and ongoing commentary about everyone and everything. Three things dramatically separated him from all other candidates. First, he’s not a politician. He’s never run for political office; he’s a total and complete outsider to politics. Second, he already has a brand. His visibility and positioning as a successful businessman and self-made billionaire imply “I get things done.” Finally, he connects emotionally with disengaged voters who feel they are being ignored and left behind.

Put these three characteristics together, and you have someone who is not part of the known and expected political class (both Republicans and Democrats). He’s a new and and unrecognized brand, an untested independent in this category. If nothing else, he can speak to issues no one else will deal with. Whether he can deliver on his promises is another story.

Delivering on Big Promises is Hard to Do

Is this a new brand coming in, saying “We’re not a computer, we’re more than a computer—we’re Apple, and our iPhone will change everything”? Or will this brand end up like the 1970 Gremlin, a failed model from defunct American Motors? It looked terrible and performed worse. Yet it was supposed to outshine GM and Ford with the most dynamic subcompact car ever.

Big promises come down really hard sometimes when they don’t meet expectations. However, this new president has not been sworn in. He has not done anything yet, so the promises and expectations are still alive for him and the American public.