Share this:


You can’t have missed Sarah Palin’s well-publicized endorsement of Donald Trump. Somewhat quieter has been the confederation of conservatives trying to get other “conservative thinkers” to speak out against the Republican Presidential front-runner.

The most recent has been Ross Douthat, a conservative author and New York Times columnist, in this past Sunday’s Times op-ed, “The Way to Stop Trump.” Mr. Douthat’s advice? “To attack him effectively, you have to go after all the things that people like about him. You have to flip his brand.” The problem is that itisn’t as simple as Mr. Douthat seems to suggest.

Last June when Mr. Trump announced his candidacy, we asked, “Did a Human Brand stand a chance at a run for the highest office in the land?” To answer that, we conducted an emotional engagement poll. If you’d like to hear about that, listen to the predicted outcome in our “What Happened?” recording, “Tippecanoe and The Donald Too,” at

Mr. Douthat went on to list a series of very rational facts that he believed would “persuade people that (Mr. Trump) is a con artist” and, therefore, derail Mr. Trump’s nomination. But as the brand engagement process – whether you’re a pet food or a political candidate – is far more emotional than rational. So just using cogent facts to topple a successful brand isn’t generally a good strategy, and particularly not in the case of Mr. Trump.

No matter how those facts line up, Donald Trump is a human brand extraordinaire! And despite how many marketers have fallen into the very bad habit of calling everything and everyone a “brand,” Mr. Trump is one of a very, very small club of Human Brands, who embodies 100% of the values of his enterprises and ideas. “Human Brand” is a designation representing the highest level of imbued meaning, values, and differentiation any brand can be. Shifting consumers away from their faith in and engagement with brands like that on the basis of facts is difficult, if not downright impossible.

Adding the Trump name to virtually anything increases perceived value anyplace from 20% to 37%. In terms of consumer emotional engagement, adding the Trump brand causes the product or service to be seen as better able to meet consumer expectations for their Ideal and the values that drive positive behavior in a particular category. In this case the Presidency of the United States.

So when Mr. Trump announced, we looked at the category engagement drivers for the Republican Ideal President, and how Brand Trump measured up to them. These have been validated every Presidential election cycle since 1980, and generally speaking the drivers – in the order Republicans “see” their Ideal President – can be described as follows:

  1. Resolve: has the strength and leadership to guide the country?
  2. Perception: has an understanding of the problems facing the county?
  3. Action: has a plan for solving the problems? (Hint: walls count, apparently)
  4. Compassion: does the candidate care about all the people?

1,350 registered Republicans in the 9 U.S. Census Regions assessed Mr. Trump using our emotional engagement questionnaire and, compared to the Republican Ideal calibrated to be 100%, on an overall basis “Brand Trump” measured 84%. After the Palin endorsement that assessment went up to 89%. We expect that after exhibiting the resolve not to participate in the most recent Republican debate, that score will have moved up again.

Brands with the kinds of high engagement levels voters are exhibiting toward Mr. Trump always lead in the marketplace when it comes to sales, so given the general tenor of the electorate, that’s likely to translate to votes in the political arena. So, no matter how rational, sensible, logical, fact-based, and well-conceived, Mr. Dlouthat’s recommendations are, they just aren’t as effective and compelling in shifting brand perceptions when it comes to voter emotional brand engagement as it does in an op-ed column.

It was Ronald Reagan in his address to the 1988 Republican National Convention, who misquoted John Adams, saying, “Facts are stupid things.” Mr. Reagan laughed and corrected himself.

But in this instance, when it comes to Brand Trump, he was absolutely right the first time.


Find out more about what makes customer loyalty happen and how Brand Keys metrics is able to predict future consumer behavior: Visit our YouTube channel to learn more about Brand Keys methodology, applications and case studies.

Share this: