VIth Sense: Can You Trump This Brand?

Author: Tim Berney
Posted: Feb 29, 2016

Topics: The VIth Sense

Disclaimer #1: There are no implied political messages or opinions in this article. I am using current events to give you some advice on branding. Remember, your mind is like a parachute. It only works when it’s open.


In the marketing world, everything is easier if you have a well-defined brand. Of course, basic marketing strategy is easier because it must support your desired brand position. You write your strategy to appeal to all of your audiences – not just your prospects and customers. You also must communicate effectively with other groups; maybe investors, board members, the media, industry consultants, and so on. That’s also much easier if your brand is well-defined because it was built around what they want from an organization like yours. When you want to enter new markets, you can introduce your brand to groups that it is likely to appeal to and then zero in on them. There’s not a lot of wasteful marketing when you know who you are, who you appeal to, where they are, and how they like to be communicated with.

The same goes for politics. Especially presidential races. And it’s never been more obvious than in this cycle. The most well-defined brands are winning.

Who has the most well-defined brand? It’s not even a close race, it’s Donald Trump. It doesn’t matter if you like the brand or not, you definitely understand it. You know it. It’s familiar. That’s the goal of a brand strategy.

The Donald Trump brand attributes are pretty obvious: Obnoxious, brash, self-promoting, wealthy, successful. You always know where you stand with Donald Trump. Better yet, you know very well what the brand stands for. Again, it doesn’t matter if you like the brand or not. You definitely understand it. You know it. It’s familiar.

Disclaimer #2: Before I proceed with this next point, remember: This has nothing to do with politics as I am not a political consultant. I am a brand consultant and this has everything to do with brands. So from a branding perspective this is how I have seen the current presidential election.

For the democratic party, this campaign has really been about repositioning a brand. Yes, Hillary Clinton’s brand has definitely been repositioned over the last year. But, it wasn’t so much her doing a bit of tweaking as it was Bernie Sanders repositioning her by positioning himself. Because he was able to effectively position the Bernie brand, he was successful in repositioning the Hillary brand. She no longer stands for everything democratic or liberal because Bernie owns some of that now and is contrasting himself with her, forcing her to do the same. So she’s been repositioned by a competitor, which has cost her some brand equity and created some brand confusion for her.

For the republican party, there were a lot of new brands early on. None of them well-defined with the public. Except Trump. So when you look at the GOP from a branding perspective, there was one very well-defined brand (Trump); there was a familiar brand name but that wasn’t well-defined (Bush), and a few other brands that had some awareness (Cruz, Rubio, Christie), but didn’t effectively define themselves in the clutter. Further, the dominant brand (however it happened) got the majority of the publicity, which prevented the also-rans from gaining traction. They are the Yahoo and Bing to Trump’s Google. He’s the iPod to their Fuze. We know the brand’s attributes, its personality, and its history.

Trump wasn’t the most popular brand, but was the most well defined. That’s your takeaway. Define your brand and then support it with everything that you do. Who knows? You might just end up the leading brand in the free world.

Which brand will win in the end? That’s where politics is different than consumer branding –there’s a winner and a loser. There’s no second place Avis behind #1 Hertz.

Disclaimer #3: This was written before the Super Tuesday primary. And I don’t plan to vote for Trump. Again, I’m just using an angle to lay a little branding knowledge on you.

Recent VIth Sense Blogs

Good Vibes

Want more marketing tips from VI?


Trending Blogs