…making brands simple, relevant, and compelling.

“Trump is a branding genius.”

May 8th, 2019

“Trump is a branding genius.” Really? This claim is often made by the chattering heads on cable news shows.

It is true. If he is intentionally trying to brand himself as an a**hole. Then he’s a branding genius.

However, typically you want to develop your brand to communicate positive attributes.

Self-absorbed, narcissistic, sociopathic, mean-spirited, psychopathic, greedy, shallow, vulgar, stupid, illiterate, uncouth, vapid, small-minded, petty, misogynist, liar, cheat, scofflaw, miscreant, low brow, thug, fraud, moron, idiot… a partial list of all the words used to describe him by the talking heads on some of the same cable news shows.

Depending upon your political persuasion, you may or may not agree with these descriptions.

The claim of his branding genius is not mutually incompatible with the litany of descriptors.

In fact, his branding genius is built and based on all the attributes used to describe Trump and his actions.

“You can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time.”

This quote is famously attributed to both Abraham Lincoln and P.T. Barnum. (There is no definitive proof that either ever said this.)

Lincoln’s legacy is one of the strongest presidential brands in history. His name evokes timeless valuable attributes like honesty, humility, and oddly both liberal and conservative values.

P.T. Barnum created The Greatest Show on Earth and is associated with the phrase “There’s a sucker born every minute.” He also claimed, “I am a showman by profession… and all the gilding shall make nothing else of me.” Others claimed his main purpose was “to put money in his own coffers.”

Trump’s brand exists somewhere between presidential brand and showman. They tend to bleed into one another. It’s hard to see where one role ends and the other begins. He’s a “Presidential Showman.”

A President’s brand also defines our country’s brand for most people worldwide who make little or no distinction between a President and the United States of America. They are one and the same. Perception is reality.

Time will tell how history judges President Trump. Technology and the 24-hour news cycle have greatly compressed time. Judgements that historically took years now occur within months, weeks, days, even hours.

The coarsening of public political dialogue has increased tremendously in the last few years. Things that folks would never say out loud in public are commonplace now.

Some folks long for a return to civility. Others appreciate transparency and the authentic expression of views and opinions. We’re well down the path of no return. You can’t put the toothpaste back in the tube. That ship has sailed. (Pick your metaphor.) We’ll all deal with the new reality whether we like it or not.

We can thank or blame the current resident of the White House. He’s a branding genius.

Smile for the camera. The world is watching… The Greatest Show on Earth.


December 1st, 2012

Simplifiers: Mark Olson (aka Mojo) at TEDx Fargo – YouTube

There are two kinds of people in the world – simplifiers and complicators.

Most of us are complicators. We may not see ourselves as complicators; we don’t mean to be complicators. But we are.

Simplifiers are a rare breed. They rarely make it to maturity.

more …


May 13th, 2011

A kid doesn’t have that many heroes. So when one gets sick and acknowledges he will soon pass, it’s worth noting. Harmon Killebrew was ‘The Killer”. Not Jerry Lee Lewis, who was a piker in comparison.

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Comes a time

March 24th, 2011

When you do something long enough, you should get pretty damn good at it.

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Brand Obama – Beyond Logic

January 14th, 2011

President Obama Connects at Gut-Level

Regardless of your political stripe, you have to be impressed by President Obama’s ability to articulate a thought and express it with force, authenticity, and grace.

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Why I’m Done Fishing for Whales…

January 11th, 2011

And going to school with other little fish.

I used to work for a large corporation, one of the largest software companies in the world.

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RFP = Really Flawed Process

December 2nd, 2010

I’ve just completed my first, last, and only experience responding to an RFP.

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Otters and a Frog

September 1st, 2010

Lessons in Differentiation

A few nights ago I was relaxing at the lake. I’ve been spending summer weekends on this little parcel of land since 1963. I know this piece of ground and the lake it sits on very well.

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Design Simple

August 31st, 2010

Design is a topic that is as complicated, or as simple, as you make it.

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Summer – The Brand

August 30th, 2010

Summer. Just the word evokes multiple sensations, memories, and experience.

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Micro (Marko) Economics

May 13th, 2010

I am a consultant. Brand, design and creative work are my area of focus. My shop is a one-person business. So, when I’m busy, the economy is great. When I’m slow, the economy is bad.

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Perspective Matters

May 12th, 2010

Life is complicated. You have to filter everything you hear – and read – in order to understand the true motivation behind any message.

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The medium is NOT the message.

May 10th, 2010

It’s not about technology. Never was. Never will be.

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Toyota Brand Crashes “Quality Was Job One”

February 3rd, 2010

Toyota’s stellar reputation for quality takes a hit.

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Leno, Letterman, and O’Brien – A Comedy of Heirs

January 18th, 2010

The individual brands of NBC’s late night comics are being trashed, by the actions of management and the comics themselves.

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Man As Brand – Tiger Woods

December 14th, 2009

Off the Green and into the Rough

When a human being becomes a brand by virtue of their talent and fame, their name is synonymous with everything they represent – the good and the bad.

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Thoughts … On Brand

Neither deep nor finely crafted. Feel free to take exception – or not. Need help? Just ask.

Recent Comments

  • Shannon: Love!
  • mojo: Simple is as simple does.
  • Bonnie: This is better than just “thoughts”…i t is a workbook simplified! Thanks!
  • Spider: yup.
  • Michael Olsen: Met Harmon when working for National Car Rental years back. We did a “Sports Legends” golf...
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