Before last week's election, one of the most popular topics among brand marketers was the speculation of the damage Trump may have done to his own brand due to the way he conducted his campaign. This would include his personal brand as well as the Trump brand name bestowed upon his vast commercial real estate holdings and array of products.
Winning has a way of negating the negative effects. Not that his audacious stands, language and behavior during the campaign hasn’t taken its toll … it has. But two factors now come into play with regard to the Trump brand: Assuming the ultimate “brand position” in the world (the presidency of the United States) and time. The more distance that is put between the raucous campaign and Trump as president, the less acute the sting is with consumers with Trump. That’s because the public has a surprisingly short memory. Helping this situation are two important facts: 1) Donald Trump must separate himself from management of his company, and 2) Trump’s children will need to assume the management of the brand.
On the latter, the campaign has actually functioned as a dress rehearsal for the future of all things Trump. Donald Jr., Eric, Ivanka, and to an extent Tiffany, have shown themselves to be sharp, articulate, attractive and refreshingly responsible to the elder parent. Allowing them to shoulder the family business now that Trump will be president will undoubtedly evolve the brand into a much more relevant brand to the next generation than it is now.
So, by any measure and by any perspective, while the Trump brand took some knocks, it’s on track to continue growth and success—provided there are no catastrophes (Trump University?).
The Hillary brand, on the other hand, has a less certain future. Losers rarely escape fading into obscurity. The fact that she led the charge as a woman and came so close to reaching the White House does make a difference. How much, and how she leverages that in the political, entertainment, consulting or publishing realm will tell the tale. But because of age, track record, and possibly health, her run for political office again is over. And her desirability as an elder statesman for the Democrat party will likely shrink like a snowball in July.
But, as they say, the other shoe is yet to drop. Hillary is not out of the woods yet, given that the FBI is still investigating the Clinton Foundation and it is unlikely a President Trump will stand in the way of an indictment. Should that circumstance occur, her brand will be finished without question.
This election was unique. No other presidential election was ever contested by two less embraced candidates by the electorate. One a professional politician. One a complete novice. Both with brand recognition beyond description. Undoubtedly marketing experts will be analyzing this for quite a while. And the final verdict on both their brands will likely take as long as well.