David E. Johnson, CEO, Strategic Vision PR Group
In today’s polarized world we all know that consumers are no longer looking at just the best price when it comes to selecting a brand. Consumers are looking for a brand that shares their beliefs and has an authentic brand story. The same also applies in the political arena and we are seeing this play out with the impeachment hearings against Donald Trump. Since the hearings began, Democrats and many members of the media have been expecting his support to collapse as happened with Richard Nixon during Watergate (these are the same people who expected his support would collapse in 2016). Yet it hasn’t. His support has stayed consistent and support for impeachment has fluctuated but remained consistent with President Trump’s approval numbers.
Why is this? Why after what many have considered to be damaging testimony, has Trump’s poll numbers stayed consistent?
The answer is quite simple. Nothing that has come out during the hearings seem inconsistent with the brand of Donald J. Trump that has been built over the decades. Americans knew Donald J. Trump long before he ran for president in 2016. They knew him from his many television appearances, The Apprentice franchise, his divorces, “The Art of the Deal”, and much more. His personal brand was developed in people’s minds whether you liked him or disliked him. He was loud, obnoxious, driven, egotistical, successful and much more in people’s minds. He was not seen as a saint or as presidential in the way we have traditionally viewed presidents like Eisenhower, Kennedy, or Reagan. He was seen as someone who would act like he acted on the Apprentice and countless television appearances in shaking things up and doing it his way. And that is precisely what his presidency has been. It is why his base stays loyal to him despite what has come out during the hearings. As long as nothing comes out that seems to go against the brand identity that Trump has nurtured over the years, his base will remain loyal.
Now contrast this with Richard Nixon who was forced to resign to avoid impeachment and removal. Nixon has been re-elected in 1972 in the fourth largest landslide in American history. Yet within less than two years he was gone from office during the Watergate scandal. Nixon was a known quantity in America much like Trump is. Nixon had made his mark in 1948 in exposing Alger Hiss and in 1952 was selected as Dwight Eisenhower’s running mate. He had been a dominant force in American politics. His brand was based upon being a smart and ruthless politician yet one with family values. He had made an issue of calling out Harry Truman for cursing in public. So much so that John Kennedy and others had poked fun at him. Yet when the Watergate tapes were released over and over again Americans heard the phrase “expletive deleted” where Nixon was himself cursing. That is when Nixon’s support among his base collapsed if you go back and look at polls from the era. He had gone against the brand identity voters had bought into over the decades.
Remaining true to your brand identity is critical to success both in business and politics. It is the reason some brands survive despite the crisis and others sink, as Donald Trump gives testimony to during the impeachment hearings.
About the Author: David E. Johnson is the CEO of Strategic Vision PR Group, a public relations and public affairs agency. Additional information on him and company may be obtained at www.strategicvisionpr.com.