Remember in 2015 when everyone laughed at the idea of Donald Trump being the commander in chief? Then he knocked down everyone, and now we are in a Twitter battle with the leadership of North Korea. There were numerous factors involved in the election of Donald J. Trump, but one we forget to dive into is the importance of branding.
Say what you want about Donald Trump, but nobody is more of a brand than this man. His name is plastered all over New York. His face was the face of NBC’s reality television division. He has associated himself with every product and type of business under the sun. He has two “names” he can be associated with: Trump and/or The Donald. His brand is everywhere, and it was a strong contributor to his political success. Now, after Oprah Winfrey’s inspiring Golden Globes speech, the gueen of daytime TV is being touted as the chosen one to dethrone our current president; and if branding is what any candidate needs, Trump may have met his match in one of the most influential women the world will ever see.
Oprah was the perfect person to receive the Cecil B. DeMille Award and give a speech in this current #MeToo climate. Her speech did not disappoint. Even NBC’s Twitter account tongue-in-cheekly tweeted “our future president.” Here is the key ending to her popular speech:
“So I want all the girls watching here, now, to know that a new day is on the horizon! And when that new day finally dawns, it will be because of a lot of magnificent women, many of whom are right here in this room tonight, and some pretty phenomenal men, fighting hard to make sure that they become the leaders who take us to the time when nobody ever has to say ‘Me too’ again.”
Think this presidential talk is silly? The latest Rasmussen Reports survey finds that 48 percent of likely U.S. voters would vote for Winfrey, while 38 percent would choose Trump. She’s almost won half of America.
This isn’t the first time someone who gave a rousing speech about an optimistic future has been anointed the next president of the United States. In 2004, at the DNC Convention, presidential nominee John Kerry was overshadowed by a junior senator from Illinois named Barack Obama. His words won over conservatives, too, that night:
“The pundits like to slice and dice our country into red states and blue states — red states for Republicans, blue states for Democrats. But I’ve got news for them, too. We worship an awesome God in the blue states, and we don’t like federal agents poking around in our libraries in the red states. We coach Little League in the blue states and, yes, we’ve got some gay friends in the red states.”
Those were the words that started the branding of Obama. Then came the “O” with the sun and red and white waves. Obama was the first to really understand the importance of branding. His face as graffiti art, the “hope and change” slogan, etc. He made sure his message was clear and visible. And two elections later he stood victorious. In a social-media, sound-bite world, a good brand is worth a few million votes.
The branding of the president isn’t new, it just wasn’t really tapped into as much. Some might argue that the first candidate to benefit was Ronald Reagan, but I would say he benefited from fame. Arguably, George W. Bush benefited from the stability of his family name brand. When he ran in 2000, he was already anointed the GOP frontrunner. In fact, the Bush name put Jeb Bush to the top of the candidate list, too. Not a bad name brand for a one-term president before them.
How important is branding to be considered a viable candidate? People are trying to get social-media darling and movie star Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson to run for president. Johnson claims he’s “seriously considering” running. This isn’t an Onion article; this is the domino effect of a culture run amok.
All of this will play a crucial role in how our leaders are picked in the future. Hopefully, we pick brands worth supporting, and not some Mickey Mouse wannabes.