Several years ago, Yellow Brick Road executive chairman Mark Bouris met Donald Trump in Sydney, where the two filmed an interview at the Four Seasons hotel to promote reality TV show The Apprentice.
Brokers got the chance to hear Mr Bouris tell the story at the Vow Financial commercial conference on the Gold Coast back in June.
According to the Wizard Home Loans founder, Mr Trump’s publicist had three rules: Don’t shake hands (Trump is a bit of a germaphobe), don’t call him Donald (only Mr Trump) and last but not least – don’t mention his hair.
“I came right up to him and said ‘G’day Donald!’,” Mr Bouris said. “He couldn’t go anywhere. He had to shake my hand.”
There are many aspects about Trump he doesn’t like, but one thing Mr Bouris can’t fault is the man’s ability to build a brand.
“I have to say about the guy, and I’ve observed this too when I’ve watched him on the campaign, he’s always on song. He is on brand 24 hours a day. It’s his strength,” Mr Bouris said.
Peter Switzer, who was interviewing Mr Bouris at the Vow conference, believes real estate mogul John McGrath has the same quality when it comes to brand power – total conviction.
“It can be a valuable skill to have in business,” Mr Switzer said. “You might not want to be the greatest broker in the country 24/7, but at least for 12 or 14 hours a day it might well pay to be like that.”
Mr Bouris highlighted the trajectory of Trump’s success from reality TV show host to running for president now that he has secured his position as the leader of the free world.
“I believe it is largely because he has built a brand around himself. He is 24/7,” Mr Bouris said. “You’ve got to be consistent. Never stop building that brand.”
A point of difference
Back in April, when the thought of Trump winning the presidency was still laughable, an article in Fortune magazine explored what makes the man and his brand so powerful.
“Brand power doesn’t arise from what most of us marketing amateurs think,” the article states.
“It isn’t based on lots of people knowing or liking a brand. It results instead from two features: a brand’s differentiation from other brands and its relevance to its intended public, as research by the Young & Rubicam ad agency established long ago.
“By those two criteria, Trump dominates utterly. He is completely unlike all other candidates, and he is far more relevant because he’s real – he talks naturally, not like a politician, and he says out loud what a segment of voters is thinking.”
The white-label model
Years ago, when he was on the verge of losing his real estate empire, the US president-elect was thrown a lifeline by the banks he owed billions to. Collectively these lenders realised that Trump's highly leveraged hotels, casinos, private jets and yachts were worth more bearing his name than without it. A new business model was born. One that required minimal effort and was highly profitable: licencing the Trump name.
The brand had become so powerful that he could stick it on anything from fillet steaks to hotel casinos and receive a handsome fee without carrying any of the risk.
He may not be a politician but he’s one hell of a salesman. The final result of the 2016 US election this week proves just how powerful a brand can be to a nation of hungry consumers.