It’s been a little more than 15 months since President Trump took his oath of office. Still the fourth estate doesn’t "get" the Trump brand.
For that matter, they don’t understand branding. Journalists continually fail to appreciate what it is from a marketing perspective — the perception that a name creates in the minds of those who interact with it.
Most media folks adhere to "brand" as the thesaurus alternative to an entity’s name, rather than attending to the essence of what a brand is — the attributes that individuals respond to when placed in various situations, predicaments or personal social interactions.
And because of this non-appreciation for branding as a marketing construct, they unsuccessfully predict the president’s "wins," when he dares to go where no one has gone before. Look no further than North Korea to illustrate this point.
So why can’t the media predict Mr. Trump’s accomplishments — North Korea, a better economy, and relatively positive meetings with the French president and the German chancellor? Well, one could argue: it’s the brand, stupid!
When we get into the weeds, from a marketing standpoint, Donald Trump is a business person’s brand who has worked as an entrepreneur rather than a corporate CEO (Think Donald Trump versus Mitt Romney).
An entrepreneur, as defined in the Merriam Webster Online Dictionary, is "one who organizes, manages, and assumes the risks of a business or enterprise."
This is a perfect depiction of Donald J. Trump.
The operative "takeaway" from this definition is "risk," a brand characteristic not well received among conventional politicians, traditional presidential scholars nor the established media.
For this Washington insider crowd, risk-taking must be calculated, sometimes calculating and intermittently conniving. And above all, minimized at all costs.
The opposite of what it means to be an entrepreneur and Donald J. Trump.
Business, like politics, is filled with risk at every corner, especially when one is an entrepreneur. Facebook’s founder, Mark Zuckerberg sums it up this way: "the biggest risk is not taking any risk . . . In a world that changing really quickly, the only strategy that is guaranteed to fail is not taking risks."
The president, like Mr. Zuckerberg, is a risk-taking businessman who is very different from a corporate CEO. Donald Trump does what entrepreneurs love to do — make deals, with risks an inevitable possibility.
In addition, entrepreneurs are charming to others when they need something from them. This is similar to when our mothers would remind us that when we were on our best behavior it was because we wanted something from her.
Consistent with this brand feature, when he wants, the president can be the "charmer in chief." Consider how President Trump persuaded Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., to vote for his pick as secretary of state — Mike Pompeo.
And let’s not forget German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s personal White House private residence tour, conducted by none other than the leader of the Western World — President Donald J. Trump. An invitation that was never offered to her.
The President’s bombastic and bigger than life brand personality, so alien in today’s fast-paced muted media outlets, doesn’t play well to Washingtonians.
But Brand Trump does have constituencies. As do all brands.
And that’s the point. Mr. Trump knows who he is and promotes his brand to those who appreciate it — his customers (supporters). And those who don’t, will just have to suffer the consequences.
Within his brand, the president also grasps how to charm. This means to entertain when it is called for, to be tough when it is demanded and strong to close the deal. Many don’t seem to recognize this brand component of his personality which makes him so effective and them . . . not so much.
If his critics only saw that charm and toughness go hand-in-hand in deal-making — integral Trump brand attributes — they would have an easier time covering this president.
Perhaps when covering Donald Trump considering this idea could be helpful, "it is always easier when you have marketing and branding in mind."
Today’s Marketing & Branding Lens Thought 4/30/2018
"Your smile is your logo; your personality is your business card, and how you leave others feel after having an experience with you becomes your trademark!"
Follow JT on Twitter @MarketingDoctor.
Dr. John Tantillo is a marketing and branding expert, known as The Marketing Doctor. JT utilizes his doctoral skills in applied research psychology to analyze the issues and personalities of the day utilizing his marketing and branding lens. This provides his readers with additional insight needed to understand the “new normal” in politics, news, and culture. Dr. Tantillo is the OpEd writer for Political Vanguard. He is the author of "People Buy Brands, Not Companies,” and the Udemy course "Go Brand Yourself!" You can follow him on Twitter @marketingdoctor and at Facebook.com/dr.johntantillo. To read more of his reports — Click Here Now.
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