Trump and Brand


Bruce BoyleBy Bruce Boyle, Executive Communications Strategist, Karma Agency 

Since the dawn of brand-building marketers have yearned for the day when everyone at every level of society could not think of a product or service without attaching a ‘brand’ to it.

The culmination of all of this may be a president of the United States deeply enamored with his own brand and willing to attach brand names to public policy. There is some justified fear that a brand can come under damaging attack from a presidential tweet.

We now have a President of the United States of America who venerates and/or excoriates brands like no other in history on Twitter while executives are sleeping.

Whether it is Carrier, H&R Block, Apple, Boeing, Ford, The New York Times, Vanity Fair or Chevrolet, President Trump has casually linked policies to brand in a way unlike any other President or national office holder.

The simplification of the tax code – pretty dry stuff historically – is a far more lively topic when the president-to-be suggests that he wants to put H&R Block out of business.

Outsourcing of jobs or the erection of trade tariffs are linked by Presidential Tweet to Carrier, Ford and Chevy. On those days when he’s feeling vindictive, 140-character attacks on institutions like The New York Times or Vanity Fair roll right out of his closest device. Whether you believe Trump’s tweets are based on prescience or petulance, it is their immediacy rather than their validity that is the constant.

Businesses and organizations should have been ready for a tsunami of brand citations from someone who lives in Trump Tower, flew Trump airlines, touts Trump ties or Trump University and has eaten Trump steaks.

Experts have chimed in that speed was the most essential element of any response to a Presidential Tweet without much advice on response content.

It may be worth waiting to see what actual response you get from your own important audiences before you respond in kind. After all, 2016 was an outstanding year for the auto industry, no matter where the cars were made, or how dire the threat of tariffs.

Vanity Fair has used Trump’s criticism of it in promotional materials and, according to a story by The New York Times, a political reporter with a new book proudly uses trump’s description of him as ‘a no-talent illiterate hack’ as a way to sell books.

It’s also unlikely that Trump’s description of Meryl Streep as ‘overrated’ after her Golden Globes presentation will cost her any roles.

No matter where you fall as to the new president, social media or government policy there is now a renewed and more urgent concern over those things that now go ‘Trump’ in the night.


About the Author: After more than a decade of journalism in Philadelphia and San Diego, Bruce began a second career in crisis communication, public relations and investor relations. He has worked as a crisis consultant to Fortune 100 companies, as well as a variety of for-profit and nonprofit organizations in finance, heavy industry, education and health care. Bruce has worked at the executive level under extraordinary circumstances as a trainer, writer and strategist. As a writer, he has produced everything from announcements of mergers and acquisitions to corporate annual reports. Prior to joining Karma, he did consulting work for Texaco, Dow Chemical, Exide Technologies, NutraSweet and Norfolk Southern and managed all communications through the failure of one of the nation’s largest savings and loan companies. At Karma, he has worked through the bankruptcy of a sub-prime lender and done public relations or brand campaigns for higher education, healthcare, chemical industry and insurance clients. He prides himself on delivering thoughtful, tailored counsel that only a seasoned professional can bring. Bruce has served as a board member for several nonprofits and is currently a member of the marketing committee at The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. A former demolition expert in the military, he attended the Temple University School of Journalism on a vocational rehabilitation grant after wounds suffered in Vietnam. He is married with one son. If he’s not working, he’s reading. 



1 Comment

  1. Ford Kanzler on at 11:32 AM

    Thoughtful item. Thank you. Especially value your points on response content vs. speed, or, as I occasionally remind clients, “think twice, speak once,” (or perhaps not at all). I also recall someone once advising when I felt hurt by criticism, to “consider the source” before internalizing the cut.

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