Across the Globe many have been shocked at the election of Donald Trump.
Most have asked “How did he do it?”
Amongst the many answers offered by political pundits (and I am most certainly not one of those), including the suggestion of a Worldwide backlash against ‘the system of government’ there is another factor at work which I believe created the massive groundswell behind Trump.
Of course, it’s, branding.
And Donald Trump got it right, from the very start...
Back on the 19th November 2012, just 13 days after Barak Obama was re-elected President, Donald Trump applied to trademark a particular slogan.
“Make America Great Again”.
Not only did he choose his political slogan four years before he was elected, he stuck with the same brand strategy throughout the entire campaign and will probably keep reminding people of it throughout his presidency.
By trademarking it, Trump even stopped his Republican Rivals Ted Cruz and Scott Walker from using the phrase.
Now this slogan wasn’t new.
Ronald Reagan first used it for his campaign back in 1980, beating the Carter/Mondale campaign slogan “A Tested And Trustworthy Team”.
Politicians rallied against a Hollywood Actor, focusing on the political inexperience of their opponent, rather than on what made them the better choice…
…yes it’s the same strategy Hillary Clinton used, to try and beat Trump.
And it backfired. Again.
So let’s look at the Clinton brand and campaign slogan and why it was so soundly beaten.
In 2015, Clintons top aides created a list of 84 slogans to choose from and they tried out a few of them in the initial primaries including "Breaking Down Barriers” (perhaps in retaliation to Trumps focus on building a wall), "Fighting For Us” (could have been seen as an instruction to begin rioting), “Building Ladders Of Opportunity” (perhaps to get over the wall Trump was going to build) and “Everyday Americans Need A Champion”…enough said about that one really.?
There were lots more and they were mostly ordinary, many totally awful from a branding point of view.
Donald Trump got his political brand focused, right from the start
Then there was the "I'm with her” slogan which often popped up during the entire campaign and was pounced on by Trump who quickly remarked, “I’m not with her, I’m with you” to the crowds at his rallies.
Eventually, in May 2016, just six months before voters would choose a president, Clintons campaign slogan “Stronger Together” was selected, but by then the Trump train, making the nation they loved great again, was full steam ahead.
The Clinton brand lacked a solid strategy and allowed too much focus on how bad her opponent was, which certainly didn’t help Hillary’s personal brand and it didn’t give voters an emotional ‘hook’ to grab hold of and own as their own chant or victory cry.
By the time the Clinton brand was talking about togetherness, it was too late. The country had already chosen.
By the time the Clinton brand was talking about togetherness, it was too late.
We all know (and love) the confidence and chutzpah Americans have, and their 100% devotion to the stars and stripes with an unflagging determination that they are the Worlds leading democracy and the greatest place on the planet, so the election of Donald Trump should have never been so surprising if you just compare the brand values and single minded strategy he used with the way Americans feel about their country.?
So what’s in it for the rest of us who live in lesser countries around the World?
How do we use this newfound knowledge to be great again too??
The #1 lesson for anyone who wants to build a massive following and have a stand out brand, is to choose your slogan, your one word, your single minded purpose, and use it confidently and consistently.
The genius of the “Make America Great Again” slogan is that it made it easy for average, everyday Americans to reflect on what they thought made their country great, what it was missing and to want to get it back again.?
It enabled them to dream, to reminisce, to paint a picture of what life might be like, if they could just get someone to make it happen.
So choose your brand strategy now and stick with it.Make it easy for your tribe to take your brand as their own, to cherish and love it as much, if not more, than you do.
Trump's personal branding lesson is to choose your strategy and stick with it.
NB:back in 1996 Bill Clinton used the slogan “Building a bridge to the twenty-first century”…perhaps politicians around the Globe need to build a bridge over murky political waters, and get over it.