I heard the words ‘brand Trump’ early this morning, and that this is something that Trump ‘has’ that’s helped his journey to the Whitehouse. This made me ask myself the question, how does that work? ignoring the medias additional dislike for Hillary, one needs to think about what ‘brand Trumps’ values would be; hatred, fascism, greed, power? I don’t know the man, and struggle to weave enough knowledge around media hype to get a real sense of what he is really like, but if the media is correct and that he is targeting white Americans, and as the media also says’ that these are mostly less educated white americans, then how does this work? do people really dislike other people due to the colour of skin – really?
Fortunately, the Americans I know and have met over the years definitely do not share these values, and I would bet their vote went somewhere else, but this does make me think a bit deeper of the power of the bigger market, or in brand or marketing terms ‘mass market appeal’. Something that I have struggled with over the years is designing for the mass market, the issue is that the more you work in the design industry, the more refined your skills become, especially if your influenced by the best of the design industry. But of course, the more you design for ‘good design’ the less you are designing or creating brands for the masses.
Here’s my logic for it though; brands have either a long shelf life or a short shelf life, they are either there one minute and gone the next, or they have a lasting effect, and brands are what influence people. I often hear people say they don’t like a new brand, which incidentally are often brands that I like due to the very fact that they disrupt the market, and yet months later you may well find that brand on their shelves and the same people once hating the brand, starting to berate the brand like it is something they have loved from the beginning. So in my logic, people, and clients, are unlikely to like a good disruptive brand when they first see it, it will make them feel uncomfortable, it will make them feel like it is too risky. It takes time of living with a brand to truly understand it and the best people to understand these things are people who do branding for a living, people who know how people react to brands and can anticipate the relationship.
Taking this back to ‘brand Trump’, here we have someone who has managed to work his way to the Whitehouse through the mass market vote, a vote made potentially as a vote of frustration than of logic, not a million miles away from Brexit, so the question from myself would be this – is the mass market vote the right one to collect? yes of course, but does it work well enough? I believe Sir Winston Churchill once said “The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter.” So it’s interesting that we employ the very best at what they do, the most educated and wisest that we can find, and in the case of the brexit, we don’t use their knowledge and wisdom, we use the common vote, who often doesn’t understand policy, but vote based on feeling left out, a kind of ‘getting you back’ vote.
In relation to a retail brand, it is the power of knowing how it will ‘play out’ that makes it more powerful, and all too often people making decisions on the client side are made based on the safe side, rather than risk, but this decision should be left with the creative and a good strategist, but only once the client believes that the designer and strategist understand the demographics and product offer. So is the US election process, as is the British, too old? news travels fast these days, the media has too much control, and the masses have less knowledge about policy and mostly voting based on resentment, rather than policy.
As for brand Trump, let’s hope for the sake of the people of the US and the rest of the world for that matter, that they use his brand wisely, that they underpin it with values like trust, compassion, wisdom and not hate, greed & power.