President Trump And Brand Management

A fundamental ingredient of brand management is positioning. It is the process of how you make your brand relevant, competitive and distinctive. Brand builders attempt to create short cuts to mind share by owning a word- for Federal Express it is “fast or speed“, for Coca-Cola it’s “original” and Google it’s “search“. Product or brand positioning helps define how you differentiate against the competition. In the beverage category this can be illustrated by 7-Up positioning as the Uncola. In politics the challenge of creating breakout candidates in highly competitive fields are the same. Campaigns need to balance the political party banners with their products which are candidates and policies.

Love him or dislike him Trump was brilliant at defining the competition before they had a chance of setting their own respective brands. He defined Jeb Bush as low energy, Clinton as crooked Hilary, Marco Rubio as little Marco and more recently Kim Jong-un as Rocket Man. While many criticize negative campaigning it works. It helps create cognitive dissonance by generating discomfort through conflicting attitudes or beliefs. The result opens pathways to reconsider pre-dispositions or decisions and potentially reduce loyalty to one candidate or another. The downside is that negative campaigning and advertising tends to taint all candidates and creates a negative halo effect or hole that even the winner has to climb out of by rebuilding their brand. For the President he needs to shift from Campaign Brand Management to his Administration’s Brand Management.

A political campaign mission at it’s simplest is about winning by defeating your competition. Leading a government is about seeing your Agenda enacted. This may require compromise but more importantly it requires inspiring others or in this instance voters to take up the cause. Messaging has been fundamental to any White House going back to George Washington. Actually George Washington was the only president not to live in the White House. He ended his service in 1797 and died before the federal government moved in 1800 from Philadelphia to the Capital named in his honor. He did however, give his approval to the the design and location of the White House.

A President can’t push through an Agenda on their own. In addition, they can’t rely exclusively on party or congressional support. As in selling commercial products it requires both push and pull campaigns. Any President’s strongest asset is their pulpit, which provides the ability to inspire voters or as in industry-customers to buy their product. In this instance the products are policies. For Congress to move on legislation it needs constant pressure. Their is a large institutional pressure industry in the form of special interests or lobbyists. If these interests are not aligned with a President’s Agenda and are not contravened by voter support success is doomed. All the strategies used to win a campaign need to be fine tuned to inspire support for your personal brand and the polices you want to enact in any political position. Positioning your personal brand and your policies to take an Agenda over the finish line can and should employ many of the elements of the marketing and media mix. Beyond the implications of policy shifts many parallels to product and political marketing can be drawn.


Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *