Imagine you run a multi-billion-dollar company, whose greatest asset — valued at $3 billion — is your personal brand. Your company licenses that brand to hotels, golf courses, and housing developments — luxury operations that are willing to pay top dollar for a name that is (at least said to be) imbued with glamour and classiness.
One day, a consultant comes to you with a brilliant new venture: Launch a bid for the presidency, in which you defame entire ethnic groups, ridicule women for their need to menstruate and use the bathroom, and re-brand yourself as a symbol of populist rage and xenophobia. Would you, a brilliant businessperson, green-light this strategy?
If you were as brilliant as Trump, you would. And six months later, you’d open the latest issue of Politico to find that your brand has been destroyed.
On Monday, the magazine reported that the Trump brand has lost the confidence of the high-net-worth individuals his enterprises depend on. According to a survey of American consumer opinion conducted by BAV Consulting, Trump’s reputation for being “upper-class,” “prestigious,” and “glamorous” has plummeted since the previous survey, taken before his campaign’s launch. And the wealthier the respondents, the harsher their appraisal — among those with incomes over $150,000, Trump’s associations with classiness and prestige have fallen 50 percent and 39 percent, respectively. That kind of plunge in brand status “would be seen as a crisis in the offices of any major consumer-oriented company,” the director of BAV Consulting writes in Politico.
Trump may have begun hurting himself the day his campaign launched, when the mogul decided to include some reflections on Mexican immigrants’ predilection for rape in his announcement speech. Within the first weeks of his candidacy, the mogul had lost marketing relationships with Univision, Macy’s, and Serta.
Judging by past behavior, Trump may be inclined to turn this news to his advantage, arguing that his indifference to the business impact of his policy proposals proves their sincerity. A less generous observer might say it merely proves that a narcissist can easily fall prey to his own pathology. We report, you decide.