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The Rise of Donald Trump: What Brands Can Learn


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The results are in and Donald Trump is the 45th President of the United States of America. Many are reeling in shock and horror, with some proclaiming the end of America, as they know it, and others wondering if everything they thought they knew was a lie.

Love him or hate him, there’s no denying that the rise of Donald Trump is nothing short of meteoric. Previously known for being a billionaire businessman and host of a reality TV show, he has never held a position in public office or served in the military. Yet he has defeated Hillary Clinton who has a solid pedigree in American politics.

Absolutely no one thought he would make it this far. In fact, there’s even a video floating around the net asking if this is all an elaborate prank. But the ballots are in, and numbers don’t lie and even more than becoming President, Trump is a phenomenon. What was a farce is now a force to be reckoned with.

Certainly this aggressive, unapologetic, brash candidate who spouts the most unbelievable rhetoric, who hits headlines every week with a new scandal, who is more famous for being on TV than for his political experience, has ignited a rare passion in the dry arena of politics.

He has inspired a firestorm of debate, millions of heads scratched in bewilderment, and what must be billions in media exposure. Everyone with a working Internet connection or access to TV must by now know the name Donald Trump.

He has certainly eclipsed the fame of his rival, who is married to a former President, who was Mr Obama’s Secretary of State and was most recently primed to be the first woman President of the United States.

This year will certainly go down in history as the Year of the Trump.  All this has led us to wonder, how did he do it? And can brands learn any lessons from his rise to infamy?

Tagline Matters

Make America Great Again is Trump’s tagline and it’s simple in promise, focused in vision and nostalgic for better times as Ronald Reagan also used it. It’s a strong and inclusive message and catchy as hell. Compare this to Clinton’s Stronger Together I’m With Her. Doesn’t have the same ring, does it?

Know your target market and hit it hard

Americans are frustrated about jobs lost at home to more competitive markets located overseas, namely Mexico and China. Trump’s promise to restore the American Dream, to return the opportunities lost is what resonates with his target demographic, middle America – people from the small cities, who don’t hold degrees, who are predominantly white and working class. They are people who believe that if you work hard, play by the rules, follow the status quo, you will succeed and so far that has not turned out to be true. His argument is that leadership up to this point has failed the ordinary American and he is the man who will make America great again (so catchy).

Keep it simple

One thing that you keep hearing is that Trump says it like it is. He’s not a great orator like Barack Obama. He doesn’t have Clinton’s polish, intellect and carefully prepared speech points. He talks in a way that the ordinary person on the street understands. It doesn’t matter that he himself has benefited from the system up to date; after all, he is a millionaire who is really very far removed from the working class. What matters is he doesn’t speak posh. His speeches are not jargon filled. He’s not politically correct. He doesn’t speak in a way that hurts your brain to listen or make you feel dumb.

Never say die

The scandal that probably hit Trump hardest is when video footage revealed gross sexist remarks towards women. He openly admits in this video to using his fame to get away with “grabbing them by the p*ssy”.  His counter? That this is “locker room talk” that most men indulge in from time to time, and really it’s nothing that Bill Clinton, Hillary’s spouse wouldn’t have said or done. The point is that Trump takes the hits and gets back up again. The scandals kept on coming on the campaign trail, and pundits predicted each would be the killing blow. Today, he is the President of the United States.

What do you think your brand can learn from Donald Trump?
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