Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has never before actually made a run at public office, even though he made noises about running for the presidency in 1988, 2004 and 2012. Those noises undoubtedly helped build his public persona — his brand — and together with his reality TV celebrity gave him an opportunity to test that brand in his successful run for the Republican Party nomination in 2016.
What was Trump’s brand value before he won the nomination? According to one report, when Trump filed financial disclosure documents in 2015, he (or his staff) estimated his total net worth at $8.7 billion. Of that total, $3.3 billion was attributed to “real estate licensing deals, brand, and branded assets.”
Brand consultants at Brand Keys looked at those documents and reckoned that “more than 75% of the entities Mr. Trump listed in his presidential financial disclosure statement either carried his name or initials on lifestyle and consumer products.” The firm also noted that before his nomination was cemented, “adding the Trump name increased the perceived value of products or services anywhere from 20% to 37%.”
After receiving the nomination, Brand Keys once again conducted a survey on the same seven categories of products and found that the value of Trump’s brand had remained unchanged or dropped in five and increased in two. Here’s the scorecard:
- TV/entertainment: brand value rose from 37% to 43%
- Country/golf clubs: brand value rose from 35% to 40%
- Real estate: brand value unchanged at 30%
- Dress shirts: brand value dropped from 30% to 22%
- Ties: brand valued dropped from 29% to 23%
- Suits: brand value dropped from 25% to 19%
- Watches: brand value dropped from 20% to 11%
The issue Brand Keys was trying to shed light on is whether it was possible for Trump to “migrate” his personal brand to a presidential brand. While that migration did in fact add value to Trump’s TV/entertainment and country/golf club brands, it destroyed value in consumer products.
Brand Keys also implied that the decline in Trump’s “human” brand is the result of comments he has made during his presidential campaign:
Mr. Trump’s comments regarding immigration, Mexicans, President Obama’s birther issues (both pro and con), the attractiveness (or lack thereof) of women, his admiration of Vladimir Putin, his Great Wall, his great wealth, his great health, and his love (and possession) of big guns and big hands has been – to say the least – controversial, polarizing, nasty, nastier, and sometimes just downright comedic for a presidential campaign.
U.S. voters ultimately will decide whether Trump’s brand will put him in the White House. And Brand Keys has promised that it will measure Trump’s presidential brand after Monday night’s debate to see where it, and Hillary Clinton’s, “stands in the political arena.”