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  • Writer's pictureIan Morris

How Trump’s presidency teaches us how not to handle brand perception

Cartoon of Trump - Threerooms

From Trump’s racist border walls, wild covid cures and disputed claims of voter fraud, the last four years have certainly been quite the ride! 

The big guy (seemingly) had it all – a film and television career that spanned longer than his combover, all the women he could ‘grab’, oh and (surely just for lol’s) becoming President of one of the largest western countries in the world.

Casting my mind back, I do admit – I enjoyed watching Trump’s speeches. Though it wasn’t with admiration, you can’t deny that the big guy delivered more shock value than the latest season of The Crown (…and I love The Crown).

Yet when it came to the end, it melted into one big orange violent mess (at the US capitol, to be exact). So where did it all go wrong? Let’s explore how Trump’s presidency teaches us how not to handle our brand perception.

What is brand perception?

First off, let’s get to grips with what brand perception is. It might sound like another of those air-filled brand terms, but really, it’s all down to your customer.

Whatever people are thinking and feeling about your company or business – that’s your brand. You don’t really get a say in it either.

Your customers dictate your brand perception – they own it. After all, it’s their thoughts and feelings that contribute towards where your brand is placed in the market.

But here’s the best part – you can shape it.

So why is brand perception important? Well, it’s your brand, you should care what people are saying, thinking and feeling about it. Based on your customers’ experiences and interactions with your brand, their thoughts determine the success (or failure) of your brand and influence others in one big swoop.

Know your audience

When it comes to improving your brand perception, it’s worth taking time to understand your customer. After all, they are the reason your business exists.

This isn’t the time to be ‘me, myself and I’. Connect with your audience and understand them. Customers want a brand to believe in. They want to get behind you, not work against you.

This is your time to shine.

To do this, you need to get to grips with who they are. It might seem irrelevant, but anything that helps build a picture of your customer is valuable. How old are they? Where are they from? Interests and career? If you know who your customers are, you can tailor your messaging to cut through other brands ‘noise’ and connect directly with your audience.

Remember, it doesn’t just boil down to what your customers are saying, but who is saying it. Each customer will interact with your brand differently, so it’s your responsibility to make it positive.

Your fountain of knowledge

Well, this might have been a tricky one for Trump. After all he only had The Apprentice script of ‘you’re fired’ to fall back on (which in all fairness to Trump, he did put to good use during his presidency!).

But enough of that. Learn from the above. Don’t underestimate the importance of knowing your customers and what makes them tick. Their role in your brand perception is an important one.

Something as simple as word-of-mouth is highly valuable when it comes to day-to-day social interactions for improving your perception. Additionally get an understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of your brand.

Learn what you need to improve and act on it.

Most importantly, understand what they are passionate about. It will give you valuable information that will help shape your perception.

The fallout

We all know the outcome. When it came to the end, Trump jetted away with an uncharacteristic silence. But the world had already begun its revolt.

After four years, it seemed we’d all had enough. In what has been described as “the biggest digital downfall in history”, a wave of online platforms banned and restricted (the then President) Trump from voicing his opinions to the world.

As described by the Independent, “Donald Trump is no longer welcome on the internet.”

To kick things off, Twitter permanently suspended Trump’s account, preventing him from spreading more misinformation and inciting further acts of violence.

Facebook and Instagram followed close behind. Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg said Trump had used the platforms to “incite violent insurrection against a democratically elected government.”

Probably safe to say he was not welcome back.

But then there was more…Pinterest, TikTok, Snapchat, YouTube, Twitch, Shopify all banned pro-Trump hashtags, topics and merchandise. Even apps that were popular with Trump supporters, were removed from the Google Play Store.

And the list goes on.

What seems to have been a strong, powerful start to Trump’s presidency, ended in tatters. He ignored his audience, focused too closely on himself and people saw through his dishonesty. His perception paid the price.

Without gaining the affection of his audience, it was only going to be a matter of time.

If you’re thinking of improving your brand perception, learn from Trump’s mistakes. Although if it does fall to pot, there’s always a good golf course in Scotland you can escape to.

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