Let’s assume Donald Trump loses. The polls and forecasting models could be wrong, of course; there’s a decent chance they’re underestimating turnout by Trump supporters. But let’s say the models are right and Trump wakes up in 12 days as a businessman deciding what to do next. What will he do? Despite heavy prognosticating to the contrary, he could be in an excellent position to make a lot of money.
Much of the media spent yesterday speculating on the damage that Trump’s campaign has done to his brand. It’s certainly true that millions of Americans who previously paid him little attention now despise him, but it’s equally true that millions of others now adore him. To understand what’s happening to brand Trump, consider two overlooked but important realities:
-Research by the Young & Rubicam ad agency has established that brand strength springs from two sources – differentiation and relevance. That’s true regardless of whether a brand is widely known or well liked. From the day he came down the Trump Tower escalator to announce his candidacy last year, Trump has been this race’s most differentiated candidate, and he’s extremely relevant, even to those who loathe him; otherwise he wouldn’t get under their skin. Love him or hate him, his brand has become even stronger.
-The people to whom his brand appeals have changed, but that doesn’t necessarily make it less valuable. The Trump brand has long been schizoid, both upscale and down-market. His buildings and golf courses have succeeded at the high end, while Trump-branded consumer products like clothing are decidedly downscale; Donald Trump Success for Men Eau de Toilette is sold at Walmart, for example. His campaign has apparently tarnished his high-end brand, which has been the main source of his wealth, but his millions of new followers could power new post-election opportunities at the low end. A much-rumored possibility is a media business built on his increased brand strength and man-of-the-people persona.
So the new Trump International Hotel in Washington may suffer, as may the value of condos in Trump Tower on Fifth Avenue, though the retail businesses in that property may do just fine with the neighborhood’s hordes of tourists. More deeply, his transformed brand may offer him a way past the trauma of losing (if he loses). Five hours of recorded interviews with Trump, recently shared by his biographer with the New York Times, revealed that public humiliation may be his greatest fear. Yet this real estate tycoon whose businesses have repeatedly gone bankrupt, whose personal net worth was once negative $900 million, also says on the tapes, “I never had a failure because I always turned a failure into a success.” He could do it again.
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What We're Reading Today
GE seeks partnership with Baker Hughes
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Didi Chuxing slowly kills off Uber China
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Alphabet's new financial discipline
Under CFO Ruth Porat, Alphabet appears to be ensuring its moonshots don't consume too much of the bottom line. With the news that it would scale back Google Fiber, and reduced losses in the "other bets" department, Larry Page's company is signaling it will enforce financial discipline as it tests new ideas. NYT
Governor Pence's plane slides off the runway
The plane carrying Donald Trump's running mate skidded off a wet runway at New York City's LaGuardia airport last night, coming to an abrupt halt in grass next to the runway. No one was injured, but Pence skipped a closed-door fundraiser following the incident. CNN
Building a Better Leader
Employers' responsibility in the talent shortage
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Companies are starting to accommodate and recruit...
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Election Fervor Fallout
Trump is way short of his $100-million promise
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Paul Ryan's tightening contest
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Backlash against Yuengling's support of Trump
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Up or Out
Neiman Marcus has promoted Sarah Miller to CIO. WSJ
Fortune Reads and Videos
Announcing a hearing on the AT&T-Time Warner merger,...
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Martin Shkreli refuses to apologize...
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GM expands its car-sharing service to Los Angeles
It's the tenth city that the service, Maven, has entered in less than a year. Fortune
Amazon Prime offered in China
Eleven years after the free shipping program debuted in the U.S. Fortune
Microsoft founder Bill Gates turns 61 today. Biography
Tencent founder Pony Ma turns 45 on Saturday. CNBC
Ivanka Trump, daughter of Donald Trump, turns 35 on Sunday. Biography
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