Since announcing for president, billionaire businessman, Donald Trump has catapulted in many of the polls to second place as the Republicans’ choice for the Republican nomination. Much of this momentum has been based upon his remarks regarding illegal immigration from Mexico. When announcing for president, Trump addressed the red button issue of illegal immigration by calling for a wall to be built between Mexico and the United States and saying, “The U.S. has become a dumping ground for everybody else’s problems. When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. They’re not sending you. They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.” According to polls Republican voters loved the remarks giving Trump equal news coverage over the past several weeks with Republican frontrunner, Jeb Bush while other candidates tried desperately to get coverage, any coverage.
While his remarks might have been good politics for the Republican primaries, it was bad business for the vast Trump brand. Trump’s remarks led Univision which broadcasts his ‘Miss USA’ pageant to announce that it would no longer broadcast the pageant. The co-hosts of the Miss USA Spanish-language simulcast—Devious Maids actress Roselyn Sanchez and actor Cristian De La Fuente announced that they also would no longer participate in that pageant. NBC announced that it was severing ties with him. Macy’s stated it would no longer carry his clothing line. Serta opted not to renew its contract with Trump Home. The PGA, ESPN, and others all followed suit. This has led many to speculate that the Trump brand is damaged beyond the pale.
Nothing could be further from the truth. Yes, the brand is taking a hit as he runs for president. The Trump brand will not only survive this but be as strong as ever after his foray into politics is concluded. The reason is Trump is being authentic to his brand.
The Donald Trump brand has been based over the years as one part serious businessman, one part entertainer, and one part somewhat buffoonish. Over the years he has insulted nearly everyone possible, declared bankruptcy, yet still the brand has survived and prospered. People have bought into that brand and believe in it. People read about Trump and watch him on ‘Celebrity Apprentice’ to see what off the wall remarks he might come out with. Trump is the ultimate showman. These people who believe in the brand are not going to change their viewing habits or purchases because of his remarks. If anything they are more likely to have their loyalty to the Trump brand be reinforced by these comments (very much as we saw with Duck Dynasty and the furor over comments made by Phil Robertson). After all, they view this as just Trump being Trump.
Brands can rebound and even flourish after a crisis if during the crisis they were true and authentic to their brand identity. After Trump’s presidential race is over, it will be business as usual for the Trump brand. Indeed he may have won even more followers with his rhetoric. That is why all the talk about the demise of the Trump brand is very premature.