– Mark Prus, Principal, NameFlash
Donald Trump is the leader in the race for the Republican nomination for President. A CNN/ORD national survey (conducted after his comments about John McCain) puts Donald Trump ahead with the support of 18% of Republicans, Jeb Bush at 15% and Scott Walker at 10%.
Why is the Trump brand doing so well?
Donald Trump is a celebrity and he has the highest name recognition of any of the candidates by far. A recent Gallup poll puts Trump’s name identification among Republicans at 92%. In fact, a poll by CNN found that only 1% of Americans had never heard of Donald Trump. Is his celebrity fame and name recognition driving his lead in the polls?
As a branding expert, I must say that celebrity fame and name recognition are certainly good. However, everyone has heard of Caitlyn (aka Bruce) Jenner and Kim Kardashian and you would not see them at the top of the polls if they were running for President. Clearly there is something more than just awareness.
I believe it is caused by Trump’s superior execution of a classic marketing technique: understanding your Target Audience. Trump knows he is not going to win over the politicos or the Washington Insiders. Instead, he speaks to the “common man.” His campaign features themes that the common man talks to his buddies about at the bar (but they never mention when they are in public). Trump has even branded this group as “the silent majority.” Trump is a smart marketer who understands his Target Audience!
For example, Trump constantly rails against the “Washington Insiders.” He says he’s fed up with Congress and is tired of “…being pushed around, kicked around, and acting and being led by stupid people.” Attacking the incumbents is often a good election strategy, but Trump has taken that tactic to a new level. Only 16% of Republicans feel like they’re being well represented in Washington (CNN poll), so Trump speaks to the other 84%.
Trump is appealing to what Victor David Hanson of PJ Media calls the “fed-up crowd.” “The fed-up crowd likes the payback of watching blood sport in an arena where niceties just don’t apply anymore,” he writes. “They enjoy the smug getting their comeuppance, as an uncouth, bull-headed Trump charges about, snorting and spearing liberal pieties and more sober and judicious Republicans at random.”
The Washington Free Beacon’s Editor Matthew Continetti calls Trump’s supporters the “radical middle”, who in years past embraced Ronald Reagan, Pat Buchanan, Newt Gingrich and Ross Perot. “That Trump is not a conservative, nor by any means a mainstream Republican, is not a minus but a plus to the radical middle,” he continues. “These voters are culturally right but economically left; they depend on the New Deal and parts of the Great Society, are estranged from the fiscal and monetary agendas of the Economist and Wall Street Journal. What they lack in free market bona fides they make up for in their romantic fantasy of the patriotic tycoon or general, the fixer, the Can Do Man who will cut the baloney and Get Things Done.”
Trump is a smart and powerful businessman who understands Marketing 101. Understand your Target Market and give them what they want. It is a pretty straightforward formula for success in the marketplace. Is Trump a “lock” for the Republican nomination? It is pretty early in the game to call it, but I’m not betting against him!