Watchtime episode 9: Battle of personal brands: Trump vs Meghan and Harry - MintTwist
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Watchtime episode 9: Battle of personal brands: Trump vs Meghan and Harry

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Watchtime episode 9: Battle of the brands: Trump vs Meghan and Harry

Welcome back to our Watchtime series! Today we have a very special topic to discuss: how famous people market themselves and turn into a brand. We will be looking at the tactics that Donald Trump, Meghan and Harry use to gain traction. So, stay tuned!

Let’s start with Donald Trump, who has been very successful when it comes to promoting himself. Following good marketing strategy premises, the experts confirm that there are three things the President of the United States of America is good at:

  • Understanding his audience. He clearly understands what his audience is looking for, which he reflects on his campaign slogan “Make America Great Again”. He also knows how to talk to his audience, how to address to them.
  • He speaks to people’s fears. Instead, of basing his speeches on people’s hopes, he talks to their fears, which is a much more successful technique. Following several studies, people tend to respond better when they listen to messages of threats and/or fear. 
  • He is rugged. He follows controversial patterns and makes his audiences excited about anything, and he is extremely clear about who he is. 

From a branding perspective, Trump is doing a great job.

Back in 1997, a psychologist named Jennifer Acker found out that personal brands have to fit into five different categories. We have put together those with a celebrity example for each of them.  

  1. Sincerity. Morgan Freeman will fit perfectly in this category, mainly looking at the characters he picks on his movies.
  2. Excitable. Lady Gaga or Jim Carry will fit into this excitement category.
  3. Competence. Steve Jobs and Elon Musk will fit here, as they are clear examples of a good representation of a brand. 
  4. Sophistication. Daniel Craig is an example of sophistication. 
  5. Ruggedness. Here is where we find Donald Trump: he is controversial; he says things that annoy other people etc. And he does not apologise. 

In terms of comparing the “Donald Trump brand” with that of Harry and Meghan, from a cash flow perspective, they still need to bring the cash in. What their public image says about them is that they are very happy making money their own way. Meghan knows about selling herself, as she has been an actress, and this is something that Harry needs to learn about. “ He is gonna have to put something in”, Aleksandra confesses.

Talking about their brand new three-year deal with Netflix, we see that Harry and Meghan want to redefine their brand. They have some work to do to make their brand consistent, with their objectives and messages. And the moment, they are not doing so well, “You have to practice what you preach” is Elliott’s final advice for every brand. It’s not easy to build your personal brand, particularly when the whole world is watching. From MintTwist, we wish them the best of luck!

*This episode was multi-streamed with ReStream


Aleksandra (00:03):

The WATCHTIME show sponsored by digital agency MintTwist.

Aleksandra (00:13):

Welcome to another episode of WatchTime. Today is going to be a very exciting episode as we are going to be discussing some of the most famous people in the world and how they market and brand themselves. I’m Aleksandra King.

Elliott (00:27):

And I’m Elliot King, we are from MintTwist, the digital agency that produces this show.

Elliott (00:32):

Specifically today, we’re going to be talking about 1: Donald Trump, and we’re going to be talking about Harry and Meghan. We’re going to be discussing how they manage their personal brands … aren’t we?

Aleksandra (00:43):

And how they go about marketing themselves in a way that we think, as the experts in the industry, whether they are doing a good job of it or not.

Elliott (00:52):

Okay, so love him or loath him. Donald Trump has been a very, very successful self-promotionalist. Now there’ve been lots of articles written about Tim, about his ability to market himself. We’re going to be talking about one specifically that was written on and it talks about the three things that he does, you know, very, very best.

Aleksandra (01:16):

Yes. I mean, I think, you know, yes, let’s just state this really clearly. This is not an endorsement or anything against Donald Trump. This is purely looking at the tactics that he uses to get ahead.

Elliott (01:28):

Yeah. And so number one is a classic for marketers is, know your audience. Now with Donald Trump’s latest election slogan, which is “Make America great Agin”, he’s absolutely zoning in on his target audience. It might see very obvious, but they’re Americans.

Aleksandra (01:47):

Of course, they’re Americans and they’re very conservative Americans. And he very wisely speaks to their exact fears, which he knows really well.

Elliott (01:57):

He knows really well. And he knows his target audience well. Which leads us to point number two. And that is: consumers and customers will respond to a greater extent to pain or to fear than they will to a positive message. A slightly controversial one, but the political tactician who broke down these series of insights, reckons that Donald Trump speaks to people’s fears as opposed to people’s hopes.

Aleksandra (02:28):

He most certaintly does. And I will read you some of these quotes from three politicians, with Trump included, Bernie Sanders and Hillary. Just to show you the different styles of how they speak to their audience. Bernie Sanders, “we can make public colleges and university tuition free”. Hillary, “the Cuban people deserve to have human rights respected and upheld” Trump, “When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best, they’re bringing drugs, crime, their rapists.

Elliott (03:00):

And again, we hasten to add, we’re not endorsing this message or going against this message, but the tactics clearly are very different between Donald Trump and some of his opponents.

Aleksandra (03:09):

Bad news travels quickly and the fear response is by far the strongest responsible.

Elliott (03:16):

Yeah. In 1997, there was a psychologist by the name of Jennifer Acker who did some research on personal brands. And she said that personal brands have to fit within one of five different categories. Okay. 

Aleksandra (03:34):

That’s really hard. To box personal brands into only five categories.

Elliott (03:37):

Her theory was that if you were going to be a personal brand, you had to stick so tightly on message. You had to fit yourself within one of these categories, if you want to be successful.

Aleksandra (03:47):

Yeah. I think that’s good to stick tight to the message because then people really understand who you are and what you represent. But again, it’s really, really tricky.

Elliott (03:56):

It’s not easy, but do you want to hear what the five categories are, and let’s look at some celebrity examples of, of each category. So first we’ve got sincerity, and this is a good example of what where Morgan Freeman fits in as a personal brand.

Aleksandra (04:10):

Do you think he is a sincere person? I mean, I don’t really know him well enough to..

Elliott (04:14):

I think the reason why he’s used as an example by, you know, by this author, I think probably is more because of the characters that he potrays in his movies, he’s an actor.

Aleksandra (04:26):

Awesome. Well, on sincerity, I would probably think Pope.

Elliott (04:32):

Well, yeah. Yes. I don’t think anyone could argue with that. Yeah. Sincerity Pope. So excitement except the excitable personal brands. So this might be lady Gaga and I guess lots of pop stars “Jim Carey?”. Yeah, for sure.

Aleksandra (04:50):

You see, but it’s even, it’s not that easy for us to even decide on this. I think they’ve got some work to do on their brands. Those ones.

Elliott (04:59):

Yeah. Maybe. So number three is competent. So a personal brand of competence and this would be Steve jobs and Elon Musk.

Aleksandra (05:10):

A hundred percent I’m with you. I agree.

Elliott (05:12):

Yeah. I think if you’re a CEO of any large company, you kind of need to try to fit in that brand. In other words, you might, you know.. not be perceived correctly, which is what branding is all about. So number four is sophistication. And an example of this would be Daniel Craig. So that bond 007 actor. “Again..” I thought you liked him

Aleksandra (05:38):

Really sophisticated?

Elliott (05:41):

Maybe it’s more of an Elliot King thing possibly?

Aleksandra (05:48):

No, I wouldn’t agree with that one, but okay.

Elliott (05:51):

So sincerity is number four and then the fifth one is ruggedness. And I think most people would agree. This is where Donald Trump wants to position himself. And, you know, I personally think he does quite a good job. So if you are going to be rugged, you have to be controversial. You have to be able to say things that are going to annoy other people. And the reason why you might do this, or one of the reasons would be to you know, to mobilize and excite, I guess, your fan base and your supporters. You know, let’s be honest. Trump supporters get really excited and happy when he abuses someone.

Aleksandra (06:33):

He’s certainly is rugged. There is no doubt. He’s like a really messy, muddy land Rover or range Rover going through like really hard terrain and getting battered. And then coming out the other side, he is 100% rugged.

Aleksandra (06:53):

Perfect brand placement. He’s extremely clear about who he is. He is not apologetic about it. Trump is rugged and that’s that. And he will also fiercely defend that image. And if anyone comes against him, as we all know, he bounces back and, you know, defends and protects and nurtures that image and makes it even more of whatever it is that it is. So it’s a really focused action against protecting his brand image. It’s very, very interesting the way he goes about it.

Elliott (07:30):

When Donald Trump says something like “I’d like to punch him in the face”, you know, he might not just be doing it because he wants to annoy people. He might be doing it because he wants to mobilize his base. 

Aleksandra (07:44):

Yeah. They love it. When he says that they love it. They’re like, “yeah, trump! Trump! Trump!”. It works. You know, love it or hated it. It works. It does the job, it got him elected. So you cannot argue with that. He speaks to his base and he is who he says he is. That is for sure.

Elliott (08:03):

Yeah. So from a branding perspective, I think we’re both on the same page here. We might not be political fans, but from a branding perspective, he’s doing a good job and, you know, he knows what he’s doing, “that’s it”. We can, we can learn a lesson or two from Donald Trump. He would have thought it. Right. So to contrast Donald Trump..

Aleksandra (08:23):

..Well actually you say who would have thought it, but he has been educated at the best business schools in the world. And he’s learned business from about that high because business in the family. So all they talked about at the dinner table and all they’ve ever, you know, businesses, but basically their pleasure and what they do in their leisure. So imagine the education, the business education in marketing, branding, finance, everything that he has had from a really, really young age.

Elliott (08:51):

Well, I can remember it was 15 years ago when you and I first met and, you know, pre-children or anything like that. We used to lie in bed on Saturday evenings watching the American apprentice and watching someone’s Donald Trump hiring the final candidates. It was, you know, it was brutal. It was somewhat entertaining.

Aleksandra (09:13):

He’s more brutal than, than sugar.

Elliott (09:16):

He’s always way more, brutal than sugar that’s for sure.

Aleksandra (09:19):

And probably a lot sugar sitting there a little bit jealous like “Oh why am I not, prime minister”.

Elliott (09:23):

Oh, that’s controversial in itself. “It’s true”. Well, yeah, so, you know, we were watching them, you know certainly very entertaining. Did I ever think you’d be, you know, the president of the United States, you know, absolutely not, but he’s there, you know, from a branding perspective.

Aleksandra (09:42):

Never underestimate what a big personality can do and to be fair to him, he did have the business acumen right there with him, a lot of experience. And, you know, he had that portal, he had an audience, so he was already famous making it a lot easier. “stepping stones” There’s there was always the chance.

Elliott (10:01):

Yeah, yeah, yeah, absolutely. Right. So let’s contrast then Donald Trump with, with a different type of brand, the Harry and Meghan.

Aleksandra (10:12):

It’s already apparently estimated at a cool $13 million and potentially set to grow. Do you agree with that?

Elliott (10:21):

Well, from a valuation perspective, you know, Brands get valued on their ability to generate earnings into the future. I think from a cashflow perspective, they certainly need to bring the cash in because they have been officially cut off, obviously from the income that comes by the royal family, apparently Prince Charles or his father was lending him money, but he stopped doing that now. The message is coming out of the Harry and Meghan canvas, they’re very, very happy earning their own way and, and moving forward together.

Aleksandra (10:55):

Yeah, I have a feeling that Megan will be taking the lead on this. I don’t know how much business experience Harry has. Megan at least has been in the acting field. She’s learned a thing or two about marketing herself. She’s had her take website, you know, she knows a thing or two about how to get her name out there. And, you know, Harry is not going to have the work done for him anymore. He’s going to have to put something in.

Elliott (11:19):

Just in this last week. So Megan and Harry have signed up, officially signed up with Netflix for a three year deal. We believe, the papers are, are reporting that it’s worth between 1 million and 2 million pounds a year with, with bonuses on top of that, depending on what they do. Equally importantly, they’re looking to redefine their brand.

Aleksandra (11:44):

Yes they are. And they definitely need to work on their brands because at the moment I, well, definitely in the UK, they’re not doing very well. They’re not very popular. They’re seen as hypocrites, especially as far as all this traveling and private jets and then preaching about, you know, do this, do that. It’s just a bit that they’ve got so much work to do.

Elliott (12:04):

And the TIG website you mentioned there actually was a relatively successful eCommerce site that she had “depends how you define relatively successful” well, it was up and running, but she had to shut it down when she joined the royal family, which must have been a bit annoying. I mean if when you married into my family, I demanded that you stop all external activity you probably wouldn’t have been too happy would you.

Aleksandra (12:27):

But then, you know, she became part of the Royal family. So “Ooh, I’ll take Royal family. I’ll take Royal family. Thank you. Use it while I want to and then move onto Netflix.” 

Elliott (12:40):

Controversial. Yeah. So, when they were married into the Royal family, they had the brand Sussex Royal, since then, they’ve had to relinquish access to that brand, to that trademark. And so, they’ve created their own trademark. “Yes archwell” 

Aleksandra (12:57):

Not sure how I feel about that. If you have to describe it, what it is and what is it…? Apparently, it’s a source of action and strength that’s okay. But Sussex, Royal, everyone knows what Sussex role is. You don’t need to explain it. So as far as brand would, we’re not being overly critical about Megan or Harry. This is purely branding.

Elliott (13:17):

I think they’ve got some work to do to position their brand, to be consistent with their objectives and their messages. And the most important thing is I think for any brand out there, personal or company, that brand has to come out of a source of truth. So it means your messages have to be consistent with your actions.

Aleksandra (13:38):

Yes and at the moment. There’s just too much, you know, they almost like sitting in a little bit of a hypocrisy bubble, especially as far as any preaching to do with the environment, you cannot go and fly in these private jets and then preach about, “Oh, you need to be kinder to animals and do this..” you’ve got to practice what you preach and there is a role, or well they like to undertake the role of still continuing to preach about, “Oh, do this and do that and don’t do this.” So, they need to be very, very careful now about how they navigate this whole field.

Elliott (14:08):

“Practice, what you preach” a key lesson for any brand, you must practice what you preach.

Aleksandra (14:15):

Yes. And, you know, we wish them well and it’s not easy to, you know, find themselves in the position they are in and then try to grow this business and then paying the huge mortgage that they’ve gotten. And dad has closed the tap off. It’s not easy and they’ve got a young child, but you know, you’re in the real world. This is business. And go ahead. Good luck with your business, but do, try and remain authentic as much as you can because the world is watching you in a very big way. And you have more of a telescope on you compared to other businesses.

Elliott (14:52):

No, never easy, never easy for any brand working under the spotlight, but we do wish them well. And you know, let’s see what the future holds for Harry and Megan and Archwell.

Elliott (15:03):

Well, in conclusion, what do we think about Donald Trump and Harry and Meghan? Who’s got the stronger personal brand who’s moving in the right direction? Who’s doing the best?

Aleksandra (15:14):

Trump is doing the best of course, Trump a 100% has it. It’s no competition.

Elliott (15:19):

I think I’ll have to have to say I’m certainly NOT a Trump supporter politically, but from a brand positioning perspective, he’s got it absolutely right. He knows the direction in which he’s going and he’s always on message.

Aleksandra (15:31):

And no one can argue with that.

Elliott (15:33):

Thank you very much for watching. Please remember to share and let us know what you think in the comments below.

Aleksandra (15:40):

Yes. Let us know your thoughts. It’s always really insightful to hear what other people have to say, so..

Elliott (15:44):

We do, we love to hear it and until next week, have a great week.

Aleksandra (15:48):

Take care. Bye. Thank you for listening to the watch time podcast brought to you by digital agency MintTwist.

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