“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.