The Worst Brand

“Donald Trump is a man who ran for office to make his brand great, not to make our country great. He had no desire or intention to lead this nation, only to market himself and to build his wealth and power.”

This from the mouth of Michael Cohen as he testified to the House Oversight and Reform Committee on February 27th.

Of the many negative critiques of our president, this can seem not as important as the racism, the defrauding, or the bullying. Yet it is one of the more damning, especially to the people he claims to be trying to help. The forgotten Americans, if you will. And sadly, they will never be much concerned with it.

With the base of his support, this brand-centric approach to the way Trump operates should provide much caution. It allows him to lie to them. To bait and switch. To get really excited about all the power he’s gaining and to falsely proclaim he’s sharing it with them. He isn’t. He never intended to. He knew at the outset, that the seedy underbelly of branding allows for all sorts of conning, cheating, and stealing. American corporations have perfected the tactics for centuries, whether they’re dealing in oil, pharmaceuticals, or data.

The Trump brand is a weapon in the fog of this information war. But also, it’s something that’s able to be critique and dissected. The American consumer has had decades of practice in discerning the world of products at our fingertips. The thing we’re failing to understand is that branding can translate to much more than what we buy and sell. That transaction feature of branding makes people think they no longer need to apply any critical thought to the brand in front of them, because the transaction is enough. With products, sure, it can be. But not in politics.

The Trump brand was powerful enough to propel a conman to the highest office in the land. That also means it can take him down. If the people under his spell are ever able to snap out of it and look honestly at the man Trump, what they see will surely shock them. But after that, they’d be able to move forward without the intoxicating false promises of greatness.

Ah greatness, the genius of the brand promise. So vague. So easily defined as whatever a person wants it to be. Once intoxicated, the person sees only what he or she wants wants as long as he or she is incapable, or unwilling, to pull back the veil. Sadly, the base under the spell of brand Trump has no intention of ever doing so.