What’s in a Name? The Value of the Trump Brand

Last week we were interviewed by NPR, a radio franchise in the US listened to by more than 20 million people. They had picked up on a point made by Donald Trump’s lawyer that the value of what he owns is all in his brand. A search on the internet brought them to our doorstep as we have written widely on the subject of brand valuations.

Well, this is a tricky one. The Trump name, that is the Trump brand, was very well known before he made a bid for the presidency. Now, installed as president, his name (i.e. the brand) must be one of the best known in the world. The question is, has this increased the value of the brand?

The reason this is tricky is because a strong brand has to have positive values as well as a high level of awareness. The Trump brand is no Liebfraumilch – it is a strong Rioja. You love it or hate it.

Already, this divisiveness is having an effect. The Trump name is displayed prominently on a number of buildings in Manhattan’s upper West side. These are apartment buildings that Trump developed in the 1990s. Equity Residential, the company that owns the buildings is in the process of removing the Trump signage after hundreds of residents have signed a “dump the Trump name” petition calling for Trump to be removed from the buildings.

For sure, on the other side of the coin, there are thousands of his supporters who have bought Trump T-shirts and hats. However, the Trump business brand does not generate revenue from these people. It is aimed at high income individuals and the corporations that rent space in his office buildings or use the hotels that sport his name.

But, the game is not over. In fact, it has only just begun. Let’s fast forward four years and consider what the Trump brand will be worth then. Everything depends on his success over this period. If he delivers a presidency that puts dollars in the pockets of Americans and makes them feel America is great again, the Trump brand will have grown by billions. He will be able to open a news channel that will cock a snook to NPR’s ratings. On the other hand, if he fails to deliver, or worse still, he is impeached or some other disaster befalls him, the Trump brand could be damaged beyond repair.

It is too early to say what the result will be but anyone interested in brand valuations should watch this closely. They will talk about it for years to come in business schools.

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