I’ll remain objective here, and will in no way make this a political rant.

My sister-in-law sent me this screenshot from GMA this morning. The headline, “IS THE TRUMP BRAND DAMAGED”. Her comment to me, “He could use your book“.

At first, I laughed. I did not watch the segment, but my assumption is they were speaking about the corporate TRUMP brand. Regardless of your views on ‘The Donald’ or Hillary, there is no denying that both of their brands have been dragged through the mud – arguably, more so than any election before. Experiencing the Trump brand over the last few months has been interesting, and certainly revealing of his true character. So the questions posed:

Does Trump really need a book about personal branding?

Is his personal brand completely damaged?

And is the TRUMP brand damaged?

A few thoughts for consideration:

Authenticity

I write about and speak a lot about brand authenticity.

A personal brand is not something that is manufactured. A brand is the clear message you send which represents the true you. You can try to ‘dress it up’, but sooner or later, people are going to see right through you. Now, this doesn’t mean that a brand can not evolve over time. In fact, I encourage that. Evolution is great, but you have to have a clear understanding of where you want to go; and you have to be willing to put in the work.

There are two reasons why I don’t think Brand Aid would do Trump a bit of good.

  1. Deep down, he is who he is. To overcome what has happened to him during this election cycle would take a massive overhaul. I don’t think he is willing to change.
  2. A total 180 turn would not be perceived as authentic. We have too deep of an understanding of who this man truly is.

In order to develop, manage and lead a strong and powerful brand, you have to start with values. You have to understand what you stand for, and create the messaging and persona around that. You can’t force your brand into a box where it just doesn’t fit.

Perfection

People are flawed and we are far from perfect. Therefore, no brand either personal or corporate is perfect. The way to a great damage-resistant brand is to continually make positive deposits. The more positive deposits you make, the easier it is to overcome damage. Think back to Justin Timberlake’s ‘brand bump’ a few months back. It’s all but forgotten, and now all you hear about is #TimberlakeAndChill.

I believe Trump have a negative account when it comes to brand deposits – especially in 2016.

Personal Brand = Corporate Brand

There is no meaningful distinction between a corporate and personal brand. I used to think this was especially true in small to mid-size companies, but this whole situation proves that the brands of the leaders of an organization are directly tied (if not precisely the same) to the brand of their company.

So, to circle all the way back, to the GMA question… YES, the TRUMP brand is damaged. His companies will not be completely ruined, and Donald won’t be out on the streets, but there have been and will continue to be losses because of him and the public’s perception of him.

What Does This Mean for You and Your Organization?

  1. Personal branding should be one of your top priorities in 2017
  2. Your brand as a leader is directly tied to your company’s brand. Is that helping you or hurting you?
  3. Make a conscious effort to make positive brand deposits to make your brand damage-resistant
  4. Brands are very transparent in today’s digital world. Ensure what you are building is authentic and something you can live up to day-in and day out.