Who proved their mettle?
I bet this year’s election wouldn’t have been entertaining if Donald Trump wasn’t a presidential candidate. And what makes elections 2016 ‘sweet and sour’ is Hillary Clinton on his back like a hump on the Hunchback of Notre-Dame.
In this head-to-head combat that reminds me of the Game of Thrones, comedians like Stephen Colbert and Jimmy Fallon pull the legs of these two competitors running in the election to win the title of American President. Mainstream and new media channels are literally scrutinizing Hillary and Trump like the Falcon in Stuart Little. In fact, Snowbell reminds me a lot of Trump (that just came out of nowhere, but its true).
Anyway, I’m blown away by the bizarre elections for the next leader of America after the black man in a white house.
So here we all are yet again trying to make some logic out of the active campaigns run by your favorite nominees. Let’s compare the contenders based on their personal branding and what we can learn from them.
The Old Trick – Propaganda 101
Propaganda is an old and clever trick to put the other person down so you could be the superman or the wonder woman. At the time of Adolf Hitler (dare I say the name), posters were an influencing medium. It’s a fine strategy that political figures like John F. Kennedy (1960) and Barack Obama (2008) used. Even now, this tactic is popularly being used by leaders across the globe.
Most of Hillary’s ads against Trump are of two types:
- Comparing his present and past statements. The idea is to show the audience the duality of the opponent by taking claims from past that he denies now.
- Running his speech reels in front of a silent audience. For example, the why children may be Trump’s downfall shows kids watching Trump’s aggressive gestures and messages.
Trump uses one of the internet’s most popular social networking site to pummel whoever he dislikes via tweets. The top on his hater’s list are the Blacks, Mexicans, Women, Muslims, and of course Hillary. I’ve observed three ways Trump whacks Hillary on Twitter.
- Calling the opponent by names such as “crooked Hillary”.
- Equating himself to Hillary by saying what he has done and she hasn’t.
- Constantly shaming competitor for her mistakes like the email controversy.
Crooked Hillary Clinton is spending a fortune on ads against me. I am the one person she doesn't want to run against. Will be such fun!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 17, 2016
Personal Branding Lesson 1: Keep an eye on your competitor and when you find something fishy, don’t stop there. Use their weak points as your strength points. Sounds fierce? In politics, it looks like you need tactics to elevate your branding by devaluing others.
The Game Of IQ & EQ
In the article Personal Branding Lessons From Clinton And Trump on Forbes, George Bradt defines Clinton’s branding as “disciplined, logical, competent evolution” while Trump’s as simply emotional. I wouldn’t disagree. Even at the debate night, Hillary seemed composed and Trump rekindled the blame game fire. His ‘hater’s gonna hate’ attitude is liked by many American citizens who hoot for him at the conventions.
I’m not judging who’s awesome and who’s not – but throughout the campaign I observed one thing. Hillary at least tries to pair logical arguments with empathy. So when she talks about taxes she keeps the middle class in mind. When she talks about terrorism, she doesn’t declare an entire race responsible for it. When she talks about migration, she acknowledges the reason why people immigrate to America. She balances her arguments at least in her speeches, which is an important part of personal branding in politics.
Also Explore: Social Entrepreneurship For A Presidential Candidate
Empathy is perhaps a thing Trump lacks, and this has led him into deep waters on the media. In The Donald’s Defect: Why EQ Trumps IQ on The Huffington Post, Alex Budak illuminates that brands like Macy’s, NASCAR and NBC don’t want to be associated with him. I feel that the only flaw in his personal branding is that he is too upfront about his feelings. If he mixes a little emotional intelligence with his IQ then he could win more votes.
Personal Branding Lesson 2: Study your target market and mold your personality traits accordingly.But at the same time, stay focused and know how to balance logic and emotions. Know that everything these days is recorded, so you can’t escape if you mess up.
Branding Shield – Protect Thyself!
Whether you are branding a company, a campaign or yourself – you need to do brand positioning. In the book Basics of Brand Positioning, Richard A. Gooner defined this practice as “the positioning of a brand in the mind of the consumer.” In fact, Marla Tabaka says “no one has to be more masterful in crafting their personal brand than a presidential candidate.” It definitely is a challenge because the eyes of an entire nation (or world even) are on you.
A simple way to position your personal brand is to create a custom logo design that’s reflective and befitting. Here are some prominent features of Hillary’s logo:
- It is in the colors of the American flag: blue and red.
- The “H” serves as a lettermark and represents Hillary.
- The “arrow” is pointing on the right side – sign of moving forward.
Annalisa Merelli in the article It’s Official: Hillary Clinton’s Logo Is Actually Perfect on Quartz, shares that when Hillary’s logo design for 2016 elections released, it was “exceptionally perfect” and flexible although many people were skeptical about the ideas the red arrow is tries to convey.
On the other hand, Trump’s positioning via his logo has been dubious. After all, he settled on three logo designs and one among them became a victim of online bullying. Now that U.S. Governor Mike Pence is his running mate, the logo evolved. This is the evolution of Trump’s logo:
Personal Branding Lesson 3: When you make a logo think about the possibilities regarding usage, shareability, adaptability, and flexibility. When redesigning your personal brand logo, be certain and make a unified design. A bad logo can ruin your image big time!
A ‘Make Sense’ Slogan
Slogans are meant to be catchy, and preferably a one liner. Although slogans are a great way to round-up your vision in a simple phrase, Kaplan Mobray in the book The 10Ks of Personal Branding: Create a Better You highlights the downside – “the danger of having slogans assigned to you is that you, ‘the product,’ now become known based on your slogan.” However, I disagree to this because the way you pitch your slogan to your audience and the way you plan your branding also matters.
“Hillary for America” is the slogan for this year’s superwoman candidate. What do you think about it? Does it affect you in anyway? Well, personally I think it’s straight forward but it doesn’t say much. It is ambiguous. Along the way, Hillary has clarified what this slogan means in her new campaign commercials and subsequent slogans. Nonetheless, it is not as powerful and snappy as Trump’s slogan.
Did he trump Hillary on this one? “Make America Great Again” sounds wondrous and charming. He has been consistent on this. Sadly, it is not original. Ronald Reagan first used this phrase in 1980’s presidential campaign when America’s economy was worsening. Regarding Trump’s/Reagan’s slogan, I’ve got these questions:
- What does Trump mean by the word “great”?
- What time period are you referring to when you say “again”?
- Who will make America great – you or the people?
- Who is America for you?
Also Explore: US Political Slogans Gone Wrong
Personal Branding Lesson 4: To create a perfect slogan, think about your personal brand and also about your audience. Don’t leave loopholes for others to pour questions at you. And hey! Don’t plagiarize.
Persuasive Speech: Words At Play
Personal branding is about your brand identity or your marketing designs. But it is also about you. When it all comes down to you, your words matter. The way you deliver in front of an audience matters. The most iconic speech in the history of American politics is “I have a dream” by Martin Luther King, Jr., a minister and activist. Nowadays, there is internet to say what you want through your social media, blog or website but you still have to stand in front of the podium and present.
With Hillary, everything is written on her note paper – in fact during the debate night I noticed one thing. Did you? Whenever a question was posed, she followed a structure of an essay. She gave an introduction of herself and her campaign, defined her ideas and plan relating to the topic, and wrapped it all up with a summary and closing statement. Trump may argue that she isn’t extempore, but there’s no harm in being prepared. It is actually good for your personal branding. You must know what you want to say.
The Trumpictionary is limited to idiot-proof words every 5th grader will know. This is good in the sense that even the children of America can understand what he is saying. With regard to his personal brand, does he want to appear this simple? If yes, then he’s doing a great job by having a restricted vocabulary. However, he wouldn’t appeal to kids or anyone if he uses derogatory words.
Personal Branding Lesson 5: Your words (that come out of your mouth) can make or break you! You must be careful about what you say and how you say it. You don’t want to ruin your personal image only because you weren’t prepared, you used offensive words, or you used very little words.
So who will win is the ultimate question, right? No matter how you brand yourself, at the end anything can happen. A single vote can make a difference. You can have a fabulous personal brand (with some glitches) but always remain consistent, compassionate and mind-blowing.
Well… who do you think is capable of the throne? Leave your answers in the comments below. Let’s see who wins. It would be awesome if your prediction came true.