Trump's 2016 campaign was a master-class in strategic branding

Our country just experienced the wildest election in modern history. Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpSenate advances public lands bill in late-night vote Warren, Democrats urge Trump to back down from veto threat over changing Confederate-named bases Esper orders ‘After Action Review’ of National Guard’s role in protests MORE and Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonWhite House accuses Biden of pushing ‘conspiracy theories’ with Trump election claim Biden courts younger voters — who have been a weakness Trayvon Martin’s mother Sybrina Fulton qualifies to run for county commissioner in Florida MORE campaigned hard and spent $6.8 billion — yes, billion — to win over the electorate. Trump emerged victorious, in part because of his brand. In fact, his campaign was a master-class in strategic branding.

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Politics aside, a savvy entrepreneur can learn from the president-elect’s campaign and apply the marketing principles to your own business enterprises. Here’s how:

TRUMP IS A BRAND

Everyone knows the name “Trump” and what it represents. Glitz, glamour, over-the-top. A good part of his income is from the licensing of his name, his brand, for everything from steaks to mega resorts. As of 2015, for instance, his name was on 17 Manhattan properties, but he only owns five of them himself.

The same principle applied during the election. Whether you like his politics or not, Trump established his political brand right out of the gate with his promise to build a wall, renegotiate our foreign trade agreements.

He said this at every rally and in every interview. He targeted his message to the very people who have been most hurt most by those issues. For those voters his angry tone was authentic. They identified with his anger and his seeming frustration.

Those voters stuck with him from day one. His brand and the kind of leader he would be was set.

Do your clients know who you are and what you stand for? Does your name immediately bring your brand to mind? Are you consistent with your message? If not, take the time to define your brand, and get it out there consistently.

HIS MESSAGE WAS SIMPLE

Trump kept things simple and easy to understand by his audience. Look at how he labeled his political opponents in the primary and general election. Remember these “Lyin’ Ted,” “Little Marco,” “Crooked Hillary,” and “Low Energy Jeb.”

I admit I laughed these off at first as juvenile but the reality is those labels worked and help him define his competition.

During the course of his campaign he never changed who he was. He changed his stand on issues all the time and his speeches were rambling, but his brand and his style of delivering the message never changed.

Do you alter your image in response to the latest market trends? People are overwhelmed today with marketing and advertisements. Your message has to be simple, powerful, and clear.

HE STAYED IN FRONT OF HIS AUDIENCE

Trump’s rallies are a great study in message delivery and getting people excited about your brand. He appeared at hundreds of rallies; often two or three a day. It paid off in a successful election.

He was always in front of his audience. If the media was paying attention to anyone or anything else, you could count on him saying something that would bring the spotlight back to him. In fact, Trump began indispensable to the networks, earning $2 billion in free media coverage by March of this year, far beyond any free attention garnered by the other candidates of either party.

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Do you stay in front of your audience, or do they only see your name on occasion? The more often your client sees your name, the more likely they are to think of you.

Donald Trump is, indeed a master of branding. I don’t recommend the same tone and the same delivery of your message. But we can learn lessons from his campaign that can help us define and promote our own brands.

Power is the co-founder of Wild Creations, a specialty toy company. He writes weekly columns for Inc.com and Entreprenuer.com.


The views expressed by contributors are their own and not the views of The Hill.

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