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Trump the brand

Trump - Drew McLellan is the Top Dog at McLellan Marketing Group

You may not like him, and in fact, you may be afraid of him but you certainly know who he is and what he stands for. He has absolutely dominated the media’s attention and coverage. His voice is always the one you hear and the one everyone is talking about.  

He has behaved incredibly consistently from the get-go and his message has never wavered.  

Again — like him or not, but Donald Trump is teaching a master’s class on brand.  Remember that branding doesn’t have to equal likability.  It’s about memorability.  It’s about differentiating yourself from your competitors so there’s a clear choice and it’s about consistency.  

And Trump has delivered on those in spades.  So regardless of how the election plays out — what can we learn from this spectacle we’ve been watching for the past year?

Branding is for the bold: If you want everyone to like you, you won’t have a brand.  Defining who you are also means declining who you are not. One of the reasons Trump is still here and some others are not is because he was willing to take a very bold stand on issues, knowing that it would cost him some voters but it would also ignite others to support him even more.

Simple, consistent messaging: If you look at Trump's website and rhetoric, he hasn’t put a lot of meat on the bone in terms of how he is going to do the things he is calling for. But he keeps saying the same things over and over. He knows that his audience has a limited attention span and that the media needs to be able to grab snippets of thoughts and sentences. He’s catering to his audiences so that they can parrot back his messaging.

Stepping away from the herd: One of the smartest elements of Trump’s campaign is that he’s effectively trained us to lump all of the other Republican candidates in a group called “not Trump.”  He’s made them all sound very similar and has gone out of his way to remind us, time and time again, how and why he’s different from all of them.

Aligned with his core: If Trump had led a quiet, respectful campaign, we would have been confused. That sort of behavior is not in alignment with his persona, his TV personality from his reality show or his business dealings. He’s always been an opinionated, outspoken, aggressive, confident personality. His political brand matches right up with that and that reassures us that it’s authentically who he is and what he believes.

Certainty: When we buy something — whether it’s our next President or a washing machine, we want to know that the manufacturer has certainty about their product. We want them to be so confident and so sure of what they’re selling that we can be sure of it too. There’s no candidate that is more confident in their own ideas and abilities than Trump. You may hate him but you know he’s not afraid or lacking in confidence in being able to deliver what he talks about. (Whether he really can or not isn’t the issue…)

I’m not advocating Trump for president. But I am suggesting that one of the reasons he’s the frontrunner is because, unlike the other candidates who are trying to appeal to everyone, Trump understands that a good brand is about staking a claim and then letting people be drawn nearer or be repelled…but that there’s nothing good to be gained by not getting noticed.



I'm very glad to read your comments, Drew! Neither my registered party nor my candidate at this time, but in a non-expert's opinion, Trump has targeted his market, accessed it far beyond anyone's expectations, and has given many people hope that their voices will be heard. You've stated Trump's brand masterfully . . . as always. Thank you for being bold (and confident) enough to do it!


Regardless of how any of us feel about his messaging or delivery style -- you have to admire his command of his own brand. He has effectively muted his competitors by bolding being his brand.

I think that many people, me included, are stunned that he's preforming as well as he is. Clearly an endorsement of the power of a brand!


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