The global airwaves and webwaves are now rammed with commentators and journalists post-rationalising why Trump got in. It’s a question of branding.
You can’t turn on the telly or read a news site without finding some media luvvie telling you how half of Americans felt disenfranchised and ignored, and how, by voting for The Donald, they were making a statement about the Washington political elite. And globalisation. And immigration. And so on.
What nobody (apart from me, seemingly) has yet said is ‘Trump is an incredibly powerful brand’.
He’s built his public persona over many years. Like Kit Kat. People know exactly what he stands for and what to expect. Like Fairy Liquid. And as the ex-presenter of the US Apprentice series he is a genuine, A-List reality TV star.
And (just like Brand Boris in the UK), you can recognise Trump from his hair alone. What a fantastic logo that is. Just like McDonald’s golden M or Disney’s silhouetted mouse ears.
He’s got some brilliant branding slogans too:
“Build a wall”, “Lock her up”. They’re what great slogans always are, specific, memorable and most importantly, ownable. Just like Have a Break Have a Kit Kat.
Compare Hillary’s lame offering: “Forward together”. Straight out of the bland political slogan handbook. Cooked up by a committee. Can’t really imagine people at a rally chanting “Forward together!”, can you?
Trump even created a hugely memorable Branding Positioning for Clinton: “Crooked Hillary.” If you look at this stuff in marketing terms it’s actually close to genius.
In short, Trump has become quite simply a Very Big Brand. And big brands are what people go for. Ask Lever Brothers or Procter and Gamble.
Lever Brothers sell Marmite. Half the British population hates it (me included). The other half loves it. This division is so marked that it’s actually become intrinsic to Marmite’s brand. Their TV ads even show people spitting it out.
Lever Brothers and their agencies recognised that not everyone likes everything, and cleverly built a massive brand around the fact that lots of people hate Marmite with a vengeance. People in the UK even talk about things being ‘a bit Marmite’. How many brands have become part of everyday language in this way?
Donald J Trump is exactly like Marmite. He hasn’t tried to make everyone like him. But the people who do, love him. And the people who don’t, hate him. The people who love him forgive him his trespasses.
That’s why you’ll never hear anyone, anywhere, say, “Oy yes, Trump, he’s OK I guess”.
Large, established consumer brands can withstand short bursts of terrible PR. Their reputation can take a knock but, if they’re big enough, they easily bounce back. Smaller, less established brands can be destroyed. Again, Trump embodies this resilience spectacularly.
Contrast this with Hillary. A me-too brand if ever there was one. A white, charisma-free Obama-lite – the own-label diet cola to Trump’s full-fat Coke.