Branding Trump — For Real

I’m going to get political with you. In this atmosphere, how can a playful (and horror-stricken) wordsmith not?

Juvenile as it is, and much as ‘Thinking America’ may resent it, Donald Trump has earned his branding stripes. Coming up with Liddle Marco and Lyin’ Ted essentially won him the nomination. Now it’s Crooked Hillary and—knife in my heart—Failing New York Times. By principle and not necessarily preference, I don’t like any of these monikers, and I don’t know anyone who does. But they stick—and once they do, the electorate has, thus far, voted accordingly (whatever the reason).

So how do we brand Donald? How can we designate him in a way that gets his admirers—and some of you may be among them—to think twice, while his detractors can rally behind it?

Elizabeth Warren tried “loser,” and although I applaud her spirit and am grateful someone’s going there, it doesn’t work. In the game of humanity, he is a loser: he’s leading people toward bigotry and violence. Yet in the game of politics and entertainment, he’s mostly winning (now).

John Oliver declared “Drumpf.” Side-splitting as his spiel was, it hasn’t taken: except among liberals.

“The Donald” is losing its steam. The Democratic party is doing “Dangerous Donald,” and I seriously doubt that will catch. Artist Brian Whiteley vied for a great tagline on Donald’s mock tombstone in Central Park—“made America hate again”—but the authorities removed it.

Maybe a copywriting agency or its fans (ahem) can come up with a stickier brand name—something that would lure him off task. After all, he’s a sensitive guy, right? I figured I’d start with alliterations:

Depthless DonaldDisparager Donald. Hm. Too smart. Right? And too one-note.

Donald the Id. Remember the id, from Psych 101? When the id rules, it’s all about screaming over a lost ice cream scoop, or bullying other kids off the slide.

Dumb Duck Donald. There’s something obstinately dumb about his nonsense-speak, his refusal to delve below the surface of knee-jerk values, extremist tactics, and 140-character playground taunts. Dumb Duck Donald has a kind of elegant, nursery rhyme swing to it. Then again, I can’t see it catching like wildfire, or, like the man himself.

Thinking aloud: Trump is anti-establishment. He’s an outsider in his own adopted party. He says he answers to voters–but you somehow doubt that he’d choose them over his own interests, when put to the test. He’s here to disrupt the status quo, we think. But during choice interviews, including this fascinating one in New York magazine, you get the sense he’s in it for the bragging rights (first) and the power trip (second).

What if the answer is that simple? As MarketSmiths copywriter Ryan suggests, what if we were to label him something he’s never outright admitted he is? Something he’s even implicitly denied, as during a particularly nonsensical answer I once heard him give Anderson Cooper to the question of who would be his VP (“I like politics,” he said, “I like politics very much.” Dizzying non-sequitor!).

Donald the Politician.

By grouping him in with every other ballot dog a Trump lover has ever felt let him down, we can brand “The Donald” as just another presidential candidate—playing games, gaming voters, and ultimately dashing hopes and breaking gullible little hearts… if he ever gets that far.

Jean Tang

Jean Tang

A champion of high-end content, Jean is a living tribute to copywriting for humans. In 2012, at a TEDx talk, she declared her now widely viewed “War Against Bland.” The visionary founder of MarketSmiths, Jean leads her growing team to captivate, inspire, and motivate readers. She has helped thousands of global clients generate revenue from words (up to 12,000% ROI), and transformed the writing of hundreds of seminar attendees at the SXSW Interactive Festival (2014 and 2015), SXSW V2V (2014), the Small Business Summit (2014, NYC), and other venues.

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