11th January 2019
8th October 2016 - Trump V Clinton – the battle of the brand names
Is the US presidential election going to be won on the policies being put forward by the two candidates, or are we witnessing a personal brand showdown?
It’s official: we live in an era where your name is your brand – from your social profile to your designer jewellery range. But, in politics, where you’d expect the raison d’être to make a difference, things have changed.
So, here we are on the eve of the new president being sworn in, and we are discussing the candidates based on their personal brands. We have a broad understanding of what they stand for politically, but, more importantly, their names (brands, I’d argue) conjure up a set of ideas and values, just like the product brands we know and love. Their personal and campaign brands are undeniably intertwined.
Let’s take a look at untangling their brands and ask the question: what impacts are their brand names having on the decision making in the US? We can do this by understanding three key things:
- The proposition – what do I get? What makes them better than the competition?
- The purpose – why are they doing this? Why do they exist? Why should anybody care?
- Personality – how does it feel? How do they come across? How do they do things?
Clinton’s proposition is ‘Stronger Together’. Does this have a double meaning? Firstly, it is referring to a stronger country that works with other countries; secondly, the campaign is aligned to Hillary standing by former President Bill Clinton through thick and thin. What is the purpose? Clinton is running for president as her next career step – she’s Secretary of State, so it’s logical, and of course the Clinton name is part of the elite in American political society, like the Bushes that went before them. The personality of the brand is important. The misdemeanours of Bill in the White House, the hiding of personal emails, the alleged health issues plaguing Hillary and their previous links with Trump develop into a set of values for which the Clinton brand stands. I’ll let you decide.
Let’s talk Trump the real-estate tycoon (to coin a US term). The proposition is ‘Make America Great Again’. Simple, powerful, no double meaning, alluding to a simple proposition – what and who have gone before haven’t worked; they’re broken, and things have to change. More importantly, the proposition was created in 1979 when the US was suffering from a worsening economy at home marked by stagflation, and it was first used in Ronald Reagan’s 1980 presidential campaign. The Trump brand, unlike his competition, is a luxury corporate brand – hotels, golf, wine and TV – and the personal brand stands for success, speaking your mind and authenticity. The very things that Trump is doing and saying are political suicide but are only reinforcing his brand as a no-nonsense boss who does whatever he wants. It’s an image he’s been cultivating for decades and which now seems to be resonating with a large number of American voters.
Let’s see which brand wins over the voters on 8th November.
Post by Marcus Wilson, Interim Marketing Communications Manager at University of Liverpool.
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