Logic, boredom and sky-high hopes: Is your business a Trump, Biden or Obama brand?


Donald Trump campaigning over the weekend in Iowa. Source: AP/Charlie Neibergall.

In case you hadn’t heard, there’s an election on in the United States.

I’m looking forward to it, not least because it’s a major distraction from work. I think I’ll just check the headlines in the New York Times, and then I get sucked into a deep vortex of madness. The rest of November will be so productive.

It’s ironic that there’s no female presidential candidate this time around.

The ‘glass cliff’ is a growing phenomenon. Boards bring in a female CEO to clean up after some arrogant blowhard has run the business into the ground.

“When the going gets rough, organizations look for a change of pace and often believe they find it in someone who isn’t their typical executive — in other words, someone who isn’t a white man,” Emily Stewart writes for Vox.

Women, cleaning up after guys, literally and figuratively, since forever.

So, what sort of brand is your business?

Trump brands: Logic is not the point

(I’m not talking about the vodka, steaks, hotels and everything else literally named Trump. But rather, other brands that have Trump characteristics.)

Trump brands talk about themselves all the time. You hear it in their ads that open with ‘at Largecorp, we …’ rather than talking about the customer’s needs.

‘We are the biggest. The best. You’re not going to believe how good we are.’

People laugh at the Donald’s shtick, but so many businesses still market that way. Listen to AM radio ads… if you can handle the pain.

Trump brands are all promise and no governance. They lure you in with the shiny brand, but they’ve given no thought to the people and systems behind the scenes who actually deliver.

It’s the clothes you ordered though Instagram, and they sent the wrong size and they’re not returning any of your messages. Because systems that work take effort, and effort is no fun compared to getting your face in the media.

Trump brands are a one-off transaction.

My wise sales consultant friend Cian Mcloughlin points out: “A customer is only a customer when they buy from you for the second time. The first time they are just dipping their toe in that water and giving you a chance. If you do a good job, that’s often when the real opportunity opens up.”

Trump brands get the cash with an overpromise, then move on to the next mark. It’s the carny approach to business.

Trump brands are the ones that take dark web hacker skills to cancel periodic payments or protect your privacy.

The Trump campaign is doing that right now, to give themselves cashflows that run way after the election is over.

Facebook is a Trump brand.

So is Rolex, in a positive way.

True fans of a Trump brand will stick with it whatever the logical challenges to their belief.

Despite the epic price, Rolexes are hopeless at keeping accurate time compared to cheap quartz watches.

Plus you have to have them serviced, like a car, at a cost of about $1,000.

This puny logic cuts no ice with Rolex owners. The more you point this out to them, the more they dig in. It makes them love their Rolex more.

Biden brands: Boring but get the job done

Biden brands are not exciting. They feel like they’ve been around a thousand years, and they remind you of your parents.

Yet in times of crisis, like when you marry someone appalling then get divorced soon after, sometimes you need your parents. And there they are, dependable just like they’ve always been.

Telstra is like this. It can talk all it likes about being at the forefront of the digital future. But the real appeal of Telstra is low risk. Its systems work reliably everywhere. Its most recent ads acknowledge this truth.

I’ve owned several Alfa Romeos, and after those thrilling yet abusive relationships, I turned to brands that are more Biden.

Yes, they are boring, but they start every morning. And a service isn’t an escalating nightmare of bad news calls from the mechanic.

Biden brands listen to their customers. And because they’re unconcerned with looking cool, they’re never fashionable. The upside of that is that they never turn embarrassingly unfashionable either, so they have a much longer shelf life.

The ultimate Biden brand? Nescafe.

Obama brands: The trouble with sky-high hopes

Obama brands are cool and feel like the future has arrived.

With no effort at all, they can just do things you can’t, like the man himself on the campaign trail last week.

The problem with Obama brands is that everyone projects all their personal dreams onto them, then get disillusioned when not all of them become reality.

Obama brands may do a fine job, but people focus on that one area they felt let down.

Apple is an Obama brand.

I still use all the gear. But I’m so disappointed by how it took its music player — the direct descendant of Steve Jobs’ original, beautiful ‘10,000 songs in your pocket’ iPod — and turned it into the Frankenstein that is Apple Music.

A counter-intuitive mess designed by people who hate music, its main role is to try to sell you a paid subscription with every other click.

Obama’s civilian drone strike killings and Wall Street bailouts were obviously bigger issues than a music player. But in both situations you go, ‘man, I honestly thought you were better than that’.

This article was first published on Motivation for Sceptics.


Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
SmartCompany Plus

Sign in

To connect a sign in method the email must match the one on your SmartCompany Plus account.
Or use your email
Forgot your password?

Want some assistance?

Contact us on: support@smartcompany.com.au or call the hotline: +61 (03) 8623 9900.