The Trump brand now stronger than Apple's

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Regardless of whether Trump (the man) wins or loses, Trump (the brand) has already won.

Several news stories recently suggested that Trump's campaign, fueled by his personal endorsement of his ability and right to commit sexual assault, was damaging the Trump brand.

As evidence of this, CNN cited a report that bookings at his casinos and hotels are sharply down, prompting Trump to sidetrack to promote his recently-opened (and sparsely booked) Washington D.C. hotel. In addition, a grassroots group has been boycotting sales of Ivanka Trump's line of clothing.

That Trump's favorability rating was down to 31 percent from a post-convention high of 38 percent would seem to lend credence to the notion that the Trump brand is a disaster the making.

However, while a favorability rating 31 percent is exceedingly low for a presidential candidate this close to an election, it's actually much higher than the Trump brand has historically enjoyed.

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Inside Donald Trump's $200M DC hotel
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Inside Donald Trump's $200M DC hotel
The hotel is located near the corner of Pennsylvania Avenue and 12th Street, just a short 15-minute walk to The White House North Lawn.

Crystal chandeliers hang in the lobby. The hotel's ballroom — the largest in Washington, DC — was named the "Presidential Ballroom." Facebook.com/trumpwashingtondc
An old mail chute remains, a nod to the building's past as a busy post office. Facebook.com/trumpwashingtondc
Rooms start at $460 a night for a deluxe room and go up to $12,000 a night for the presidential suite with unrestricted access to all amenities. Booking the Trump townhouse with amenities can set guests back $25,050 a night. There's also the very first Ivanka Suite, which costs $1,050 a night.

Those amenities include the 10,000-square-foot spa and fitness center designed by Ivanka Trump. Facebook.com/trumpwashingtondc
And as for the decor, you can't go far without seeing a Trump-branded product.
Conference rooms are named after former presidents — and Trump.
Dining options include David Burke's steakhouse BLT Prime and the Benjamin Bar & Lounge.
BLT Prime has tables in the mezzanine, with views of the clocktower, but there's also more intimate seating available in the lower level.
The decor was chosen by Ivanka Trump, partnering with the design firm HBA.
Also on offer in the atrium's Benjamin Bar and Lounge: ounce-sized samplings of rare wines served on a silver spoon. Facebook.com/trumpwashingtondc
A cocktail menu also includes several pricey drinks, including a $100 cocktail called "The Benjamin." Its ingredient list includes rye, potato, winter wheat vodka, raw oysters, and caviar. Facebook.com/trumpwashingtondc
Guests have been able to book rooms since September, but Wednesday's grand opening signaled its official entrance onto DC's hotel scene.
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In May of 2011, Steven Levitt, president of the brand valuation firm Q Scores, told Adweek that Trump's popularity ratings "are as bad as they've always been...four-and-a-half times more people are turned off by him than turned on."

In other words, before Trump entered the political arena in 2011 by spreading racist lies about President Obama, the Trump brand enjoyed a favorability rating of 18 percent. Back then, he was only around half as popular as he is today.

More important, many Trump's political supporters are wildly enthusiastic about him, so that the Trump brand almost seems to echo the product evangelism usually associated with strong corporate brands like Apple and Starbucks.

As I've noted in a previous post, any brand that people really love will also have a set of people who loathe it. Consider: don't you know at least one person who hates the entire Apple fanboy shtick?

It's true that many people who probably never gave the Trump brand a second thought five years ago now actively hate him and the brand alike. However, their hatred makes Trump's supporters love him all the more. That's how branding works.

Weak brands create weak emotions which drive weak sales. Strong brands create strong emotions which drive strong sales. As long as those sales take place, it doesn't matter whether the strong emotions are negative or positive. In branding, love and hate are sides of the same coin.

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Donald Trump supporters
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Donald Trump supporters
A masked supporter dances before Republican U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump arrives at a campaign town hall event in Wausau, Wisconsin April 2, 2016. REUTERS/Ben Brewer
U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump greets supporters at a campaign rally in San Jose, California, U.S. June 2, 2016. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
Supporters cheer for U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump at a campaign rally in San Jose, California, U.S. June 2, 2016. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
People say the pledge of allegiance before listening to U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speak at a campaign rally in San Jose, California, U.S. June 2, 2016. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
Supporters wait for U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump to speak at a campaign rally in San Jose, California, U.S. June 2, 2016. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
Supporters cheer for U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump as he speaks at a campaign rally in San Jose, California, U.S. June 2, 2016. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
Supporters (L-R) Annalisa Wales, 12, Scarlett Wales, 9, Barbara Wales, 68, and Katherine Wales, 10, wait for U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump to speak at a campaign rally in San Jose, California, U.S. June 2, 2016. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
Supporters cheer for U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump at a campaign rally in San Jose, California, U.S. June 2, 2016. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump greets supporters at a campaign rally in San Jose, California, U.S. June 2, 2016. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump greets supporters at a campaign rally in San Jose, California, U.S. June 2, 2016. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump greets supporters at a campaign rally in San Jose, California, U.S. June 2, 2016. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
People listen to U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speak at a campaign rally in Sacramento, California, U.S. June 1, 2016. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
A man carries a sign for Republican U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump at the Rolling Thunder motorcycle rally to highlight POW-MIA issues on Memorial Day weekend in Washington, U.S. May 29, 2016. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
People watch Republican U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump address the Rolling Thunder motorcycle rally to highlight POW-MIA issues on Memorial Day weekend in Washington, U.S. May 29, 2016. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
Supporters attend a rally with Republican U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump in San Diego, California, U.S. May 27, 2016. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
Marcos Spence solicits volunteers to work for the campaign of Republican U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump as they stand in line before the start of his rally in Albuquerque, New Mexico, U.S. May 24, 2016. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
A supporter holds a sign as Republican U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump holds a rally in Anaheim, California, U.S. May 25, 2016. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
Supporters line up to enter a convention center where U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump holds a campaign rally in Anaheim, California, United States May 25, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Blake
Supporters of Republican U.S. Presidential candidate Donald Trump arrive before Trump speaks at a campaign event in Anaheim, California U.S. May 25, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Blake
A supporter of Republican U.S. Presidential candidate Donald Trump holds a sign before Trump speaks at a campaign event in Anaheim, California U.S. May 25, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Blake
Supporters of Republican U.S. Presidential candidate Donald Trump arrive before Trump speaks at a campaign event in Anaheim, California U.S. May 25, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Blake
Supporters of Republican U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump stand in line before the start of his rally in Albuquerque, New Mexico, U.S. May 24, 2016. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NO RESALES. NO ARCHIVES.
A supporter of Republican U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump attends a Trump campaign rally at the Verizon Wireless Arena in Manchester, New Hampshire, February 8, 2016. REUTERS/Rick Wilking
A supporter of Republican U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump wearing a "Trump for President '16" t-shirt listens to the candidate speak at a campaign rally at the airport in Hagerstown, Maryland, U.S. On April 24, 2016. REUTERS/Jim Bourg/File Photo
Activists of Hindu Sena, a Hindu right-wing group, perform a special prayer to ensure a victory of Republican U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump in the upcoming elections, according to a media release, in New Delhi, India May 11, 2016. REUTERS/Anindito Mukherjee
Supporters hold signs as Republican U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally in Lynden, Washington, U.S., May 7, 2016. REUTERS/Jim Urquhart
Supporters cheer as Republican U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally in Lynden, Washington, U.S., May 7, 2016. REUTERS/Jim Urquhart
Supporters hold signs as Republican U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally in Lynden, Washington, U.S., May 7, 2016. REUTERS/Jim Urquhart
A supporter of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump holds a sign during a rally in Spokane, Wash., Saturday, May 7, 2016. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
Delegate Douglas Marshall in the Donald Trump booth during the second day of the Republican Party of Texas state convention on May 13, 2016 in Dallas. (Paul Moseley/Fort Worth Star-Telegram/TNS via Getty Images)
Supporters look on as Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks at a rally Saturday, May 7, 2016, in Lynden, Wash. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
A supporter of U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump holds a sign during a campaign event at Grumman Studios in Bethpage, New York April 6, 2016. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton
A supporter of U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump takes a photo during a campaign event at Grumman Studios in Bethpage, New York April 6, 2016. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton
Republican U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump supporters Josh (R), and his father Jeff Schimek (L), wait for him to speaks during a Town Hall at the Racine Civic Centre Memorial Hall April 2, 2016. REUTERS/Kamil Krzaczynski EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NO RESALES. NO ARCHIVE
Supporters (L) of Republican U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump point and scream at an anti-Trump demonstrator (R) holding a sign reading "More Like Make America Racist Again" sign during a Trump campaign rally in Fountain Hills, Arizona March 19, 2016. REUTERS/Ricardo Arduengo TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
A supporter of U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump attends a campaign rally in De Pere, Wisconsin, United States, March 30, 2016. REUTERS/Jim Young
Bob Bolus, a supporter of U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, gives the thumbs up to drivers as they pass by on Super Tuesday in Middleburg Heights, Ohio March 15, 2016. REUTERS/Aaron Josefczyk
Rosemary Harder wears a hat supporting Republican U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump during a news conference, after the Florida, Ohio, North Carolina, Illinois and Missouri primary elections, held at his Mar-A-Lago Club, in Palm Beach, Florida March 15, 2016. REUTERS/Joe Skipper
Supporter of U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump Alex Stypik joins Trump (L) on stage at a campaign rally in Bloomington, Illinois March 13, 2016. REUTERS/Jim Young
A Trump supporter (R) yells at a demonstrator (L) after Republican U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump cancelled his rally at the University of Illinois at Chicago March 11, 2016. REUTERS/Kamil Krzaczynski TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Supporters of Republican U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump cheer on their candidate at a Trump campaign rally in New Orleans, Louisiana March 4, 2016. REUTERS/Layne Murdoch Jr.
A supporter of U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump attends a campaign rally in Cadillac, Michigan, March 4, 2016. REUTERS/Jim Young
A supporter of Republican U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump holds up a sign at a campaign rally at Valdosta State University in Valdosta, Georgia February 29, 2016. REUTERS/ Philip Sears
A supporter of Republican U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump celebrates with a cigar at Trump's 2016 South Carolina presidential primary night rally in Spartanburg, South Carolina February 20, 2016. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
A campaign volunteer for U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump wears a hat signed by Trump during a rally with supporters in Gaffney, South Carolina February 18, 2016. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
Freda Green, of Louisiana, wears a hat in support of Republican U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump before a rally in Baton Rouge, Louisiana February 11, 2016. REUTERS/Jonathan Bachman
A veteran of both the Korean and the Vietnam War, C.J. Dauzt wears a sticker in support of Republican U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump before a rally in Baton Rouge, Louisiana in Baton Rouge, Louisiana February 11, 2016. REUTERS/Jonathan Bachman
10-year-old Ian Linden, of New Orleans, holds a sign in support of Republican U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump before a rally in Baton Rouge, Louisiana February 11, 2016. REUTERS/Jonathan Bachman
Supporter of U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump wait for the start of his campaign rally in Plymouth, New Hampshire February 7, 2016. REUTERS/Jim Bourg
Anne-Sophie Marquis cradles her doll Clare, wearing a button supporting U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, at a Trump campaign rally in Plymouth, New Hampshire February 7, 2016. REUTERS/Rick Wilking
Young supporters of Republican U.S. presidential candidate businessman Donald Trump wait for Trump to speak at a veteran's rally in Des Moines, Iowa January 28, 2016. REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein
Mark Palzer shows his support for U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump before a campaign rally at Oral Roberts University in Tulsa, Oklahoma January 20, 2016. REUTERS/Nick Oxford
Barbara Tomasino shows her support for U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump before a campaign rally at Oral Roberts University in Tulsa, Oklahoma, January 20, 2016. REUTERS/Nick Oxford
Supporters of U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump attend a campaign rally at Oral Roberts University in Tulsa, Oklahoma, January 20, 2016. REUTERS/Nick Oxford
Liberty University students and supporters of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump wear letters spelling his name before his speech at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia, January 18, 2016. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
A supporter of U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump wears a National Rifle Association shirt before his speech at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia, January 18, 2016. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
Trump supporters Joshua Smith (from Left) and Seth Stephens, both of Aiken, South Carolina and Rona Bartolomucci of Hilton Head Island, wait along the front buffer before a rally for U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump at the Westin Hilton Head Island Resort and Spa in Hilton Head Island, South Carolina, December 30, 2015. REUTERS/Randall Hill
FOUNTAIN HILLS, AZ - MARCH 19: Supporters of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump look on during Fountain Park during a campaign rally on March 19, 2016 in Fountain Hills, Arizona. Trumps visit to Arizona is the second time in three months as he looks to gain the GOP nomination for President. (Photo by Ralph Freso/Getty Images)
SALT LAKE CITY, UT - MARCH 18: A supporter waits for Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speak at a campaign rally on March 18, 2016 in Salt Lake City, Utah. The Republican and Democratic caucuses are March 22. (Photo by George Frey/Getty Images)
A supporter of Donald Trump, president and chief executive of Trump Organization Inc. and 2016 Republican presidential candidate, wears campaign stickers on her sandals before a town hall event at the Tampa Convention Center in Tampa, Florida, U.S., on Monday, March 14, 2016. As protesters shadow campaign appearances by Trump, the billionaire has shifted a planned Monday-night rally in south Florida to Ohio, where polls show Governor John Kasich may be pulling ahead days before the states primary election. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Trump supporters pass out signs prior to a rally for Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump on March 13, 2016 in Boca Raton, Florida. Primary voters head to the polls on March 15th in Florida. / AFP / RHONA WISE (Photo credit should read RHONA WISE/AFP/Getty Images)
Attendees wait for the start of a campaign event with Donald Trump, president and chief executive of Trump Organization Inc. and 2016 Republican presidential candidate, not pictured, in Bloomington, Illinois, U.S., on Sunday, March 13, 2016. After violent protests prompted Donald Trump to cancel a rally in Chicago on Friday night, the Republican presidential front-runner blamed the activist group MoveOn.Org and supporters of Senator Bernie Sanders for the chaos, while defending his own harassed supporters. Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Donald Trump, president and chief executive of Trump Organization Inc. and 2016 Republican presidential candidate, left, stands with a man he called onto the stage from the crowd because of the 'Legal Immigrant For Trump' t-shirt he was wearing, during a campaign event in Bloomington, Illinois, U.S., on Sunday, March 13, 2016. After violent protests prompted Donald Trump to cancel a rally in Chicago on Friday night, the Republican presidential front-runner blamed the activist group MoveOn.Org and supporters of Senator Bernie Sanders for the chaos, while defending his own harassed supporters. Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg via Getty Images
CHICAGO, IL - MARCH 11: A supporter exists the University of Illinois at Chicago Pavilion where Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump cancelled a campaign rally over safety concerns March 11, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois. The Illinois Republican presidential primary will be held March 15. (Photo by Jonathan Gibby/Getty Images)
Supporters of Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump gather prior to a Trump Rally at the Peabody Opera House on March 11, 2016 in St. Louis, Missouri. / AFP / Michael B. Thomas (Photo credit should read MICHAEL B. THOMAS/AFP/Getty Images)
Supporters of Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump gather prior to a Trump Rally at the Peabody Opera House on March 11, 2016 in St. Louis, Missouri. / AFP / Michael B. Thomas (Photo credit should read MICHAEL B. THOMAS/AFP/Getty Images)
RADFORD, VA - FEBRUARY 29: A campaign rally for Donald J. Trump, candidate for the Republican presidential nomination, at the Radford University Dedmon Arena in Radford, Virginia, on Monday, February 29, 2016. (Photo by Benjamin Lowy/Getty Images Reportage)
A woman reacts as U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump works the crowd following a campaign event in an airplane hanger in Rome, New York April 12, 2016. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri
A woman reacts as U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump works the crowd following a campaign event in an airplane hanger in Rome, New York April 12, 2016. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri
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In terms of the amount of pure emotion it creates, the Trump brand is arguably stronger than the Apple brand. While Apple sales dwarf Trump sales, that's comparing apples to orangeheads. When it comes to emotion, Trump beats Apple hands down.

That's relevant in a business sense because the demographic profile of Trump's supporters matches the traditional demographic target of Trump's branded products.

While the Trump brand is outwardly positioned as luxurious and upscale, it's always had its greatest appeal for the sort of down-scale wannabes who are impressed by lavish tackiness like solid gold bathroom fixtures.

Trump's branded products--Trump Wine, Trump Steaks, Trump University, Trump's books, etc.--are targeted not at the rich but at those who hope, by aping Trump, to bask in a pale reflection of his lifestyle.

In other words, Trump's political supporters are the very people to whom Trump has been hawking his products. By contrast, the people who now hate Trump and his brand were never his potential customers nor likely to become customers.

Trump's reality TV show is a case in point. The primary appeal of The Apprentice was the working-class schadenfreude of watching Trump fire the kind of upscale professionals and celebrities who are doing quite well in the real world.

Much like Trump's candidacy, The Apprentice was revenge fantasy for the downwardly mobile.

Seen in that light, Trump's candidacy has raised the visibility of (and strengthened the attachment to) the Trump brand among those people who were and are most likely to buy Trump-branded products or stay at Trump properties.

Which leads us to the election.

Regardless of whether Trump wins or loses, he'll remain a hero to his supporters. Any products that he launches--and make no mistake, win or lose, there will be Trump-branded products--will sell well to his newly-loyal customer base.

If, for instance, Trump launches his own television network in competition with Fox, it will begin broadcasting with huge brand equity, guaranteeing its success whether it's run out of Trump Tower (if he loses) or the White House (if he wins).

So regardless of what happens on November 8, the Trump brand will emerge from the election burnished rather than tarnished. Indeed, from a branding perspective, Trump has already won, and won bigly.

Those who believe that Trump's brand has taken a huge hit should remember the immortal words of H.L. Mencken: "No one ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public."


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