What more could be said, after the horrifying events of January 6, 2021, whereby a coup was attempted on US soil, instigated by a sitting president. Many saw this inevitable outcome and tried to warn the public, the president’s own lawyer Michael Cohen, informed us 18 months earlier that this president will not transition in a peaceful transfer of power. All in all it’s been a harrowing and frightening 4 years for some, to say the least.
Everyone has an opinion on Donald Trump. Not everyone is buying what he’s selling, but everyone’s saying his name. He’s got questionable qualifications and proven dishonesty, but Trump was still the top Republican candidate for US President.
What is Trump’s appeal? Donald Trump understands marketing. More specifically, Trump has built a personal brand so strong that he can do no wrong in the eyes of his supporters. The last four years of Trump’s presidency has ushered in a new wave of polarization marketing, and businesses have followed suit in pushing the boundaries. Well this is the inevitable outcome. Any business would love to generate Trump-level loyalty. But, on January 6, 2021, we saw the inevitable outcome, we saw how delicate democracy is, and how one man almost usurped and destroyed America right before our eyes.
Know Your Audience
Trump understands Republicans. Over time, the Republican Party has coaxed its supporters into intense emotion around their Democratic opposition and the “dangerous and desperate times” we live in. Trump spoke directly to those concerns, wielded it as a weapon and almost chopped off democracy at the head.
Many people are outraged by Trump’s antagonistic words and aggressive actions, but he knows those people aren’t his audience. He never apologizes for being the person he knows he’s expected to be. Instead, when people attack him, he doubles down, continuing the cycle that reinforces his brand.
To his supporters, Trump is authentic and truthful, creating the type of loyalty any brand would love to have from their consumer.
Appeal to Emotion
Even when Donald Trump is caught red-handed in a lie or morally questionable situation, his supporters remain unshaken. His campaign doesn’t always stand up to scrutiny, but it doesn’t have to. His supporters follow him not out of rationality, but out of emotion and out of fear stoked by the continuously running narrative.
Trump makes it clear that he sympathizes with his supporters. If they’re angry, he’s angry. If they’re afraid, he’s afraid. People support brands that share their core opinions, and Trump can afford to pander harder than any other candidate, because his supporters are fiercely emotionally invested in his message.
While many businesses are understandably reluctant to be as polarizing as Donald Trump, it is his variety of intense, emotional polarization that creates aggressive brand loyalty. Enough, and to such an extent that they venture on toppling the republic.
Leverage Social Media
Donald Trump spends significantly less money on traditional marketing than his competition (tens of millions of dollar less). Everyone wants attention, but Trump knows how to get it better than most people. By making blatantly outrageous statements, Trump ensures that he will regularly be trending, shared, and discussed.
Trumps understands that attention is the currency of modern marketing. He earned the spotlight of the 2016 election through vitriol unprecedented in American political history, expressing this vitriol via social media. He was adored as something new. Many of his statements (and even his campaign slogan) are an incendiary reputation of social cohesion. But, people simply went along with it.
While not every business should embrace the any press is good press principal, it is difficult to deny that most brands would love to be discussed as much as Donald Trump.