Shorting Stocks for Fun and Profit

Posted on July 20th, 2016

Shorting Stocks

Let me be crystal clear: I’m not a money manager. I’m not a particularly astute investor. And even I wouldn’t follow my own advice. In fact, my go-to-line for advice has always been to try shorting stocks I buy. So you’ve been warned.

But today I think there’s a simple way to look for opportunity in the market. Simply watch for marketing trends that inflate big stock values and then come crashing down when the companies can’t handle the hype. The opportunity is in shorting stocks of media darlings.

Examples that have already happened? Chipotle and Tesla. An opportunity that’s ripe for exploitation right now? Keep reading.

Thanks to their inability to manage their food borne illness image crises, Chipotle’s March 7th high of $533 tumbled to $390 on July 7th. Even if you didn’t short at the maximum and sell at the minimum, there was still lots of time to exploit the stock’s volatility. Melissa Francis and I talked about Chipotle’s problems on FOX Business on December 11 and again on June 10.

Or how about Tesla? In July of 2015 their stock was valued at $282. One year later, it’s down to $224 and was as low as $143 in February. Why? Because in addition to the typical problems that plague tech startups, the word on TV screens and smartphones around the country is that Tesla’s auto-pilot software is killing people. Whether or not the car’s self-driving modes are ready for prime time is beside the point. The public believes that Tesla has a problem and their stock reflected that opinion. And all this after almost 400,000 would-be buyers plunked down deposits for Tesla’s model 3.

But so what? These potential windfalls have already happened. What you want to know is where is the great opportunity on the horizon for an astute investor like you? Easy. They are hidden in plain sight in today’s headlines.

Guess what game just made its namesake $45 million on $160+ million in revenue? It was the Kim Kardashian: Hollywood app and it was downloaded over 45 million times.  Forget Bitcoin, gaming is today’s new currency.

So is the Keeping Up with the Kardashians’ star, number 42 on Forbes’ Celebrity 100 list, the next big opportunity?

No, it’s not Kimmie. Today’s prospect is a fat little yellow creature and its friends. Pokémon Go, the mobile app version of the 1990’s card trading craze is the next big chance to score. Three days after its release the game been downloaded from Google Play and the iOS App Store about 7.5 million times and that number continues to increase. But more stunning is the company’s shareholder value which has already increased over $9 billion. Not bad for a few day’s work.

Where’s the opportunity then? Not simply because what goes up must come down but because people are going to be dying to play Pokémon Go.

Dying. Literally.

From The New York Post: “Mike Schultz, a 21-year-old communications graduate on Long Island… took a spill on his skateboard as he stared at his phone while cruising for critters early Thursday.”

From The New York Daily News: “The MTA tweeted a warning for players not to follow creatures off train platforms. In Missouri, police said they arrested four teens after they allegedly lured victims to remote locations using the game and robbed them.”

From The Wall Street Journal: “Dakota Schwartz…sprained his ankle at a park trying to capture a particular Pokémon.”

Sure, these injuries are minor but it’s just a matter of time before something catastrophic happens. Players will walk into traffic, walk in front of speeding trains, walk off of rooftops and worse. And just like the people who were Dying to be in Facebook  people will be dying to play Pokémon Go. Once the liability suits start pouring in you’ll be able to fan yourself with the gauge that records the dropping price of the company’s inflated stock.

As I said in the beginning of this post, I know next to nothing about buying stocks, shorting stocks, investing or speculation strategy. And until now, shorting stocks has always been something worth doing against my recommendations. But what I do know how to do is build brand value. And I also know when that value is about to come crashing down.


Ashley Madison on Branding Adultery

Posted on July 11th, 2016

Ashley Madison on Branding Adultery

From last Wednesday’s New York Times:

“Ashley Madison, a service that claims to facilitate extramarital affairs, has been in repair mode since last summer, when hackers exposed information attached to more that 30 million accounts and badly bruised the trust upon which its business was built.”

Ashley Madison

The news that there was an app created to facilitate cheating shocked lots of people. Many NYT readers were probably shocked that more than 30 million people had signed up. And lots of spouses were shocked to find their loved ones on the membership roster.

But what stood out to me was the ironic explanation of why Ashley Madison needed to repair their enterprise: Hackers had “badly bruised the trust upon which its business was built.” After all, if you are going to have an extramarital affair, and you are going to use a web app to arrange that affair, wouldn’t you expect — hell, wouldn’t you DEMAND — that your private information about the private things you do with your privates be kept private?

According to the Times, hackers “released nearly 10 gigabytes’ worth of stolen data, including details on member’s names, phone numbers and payment transactions.” It seems the hackers were upset because the company overstated “how many women really used the website.” The hackers also complained “the company charged members a $19 fee to scrub their profiles from the site but then failed to do so.”

But hold your self-righteous snickering for a moment. This security breech is more serious than it might appear. The Times says that the “…Ashley Madison release of user information had devastating consequences for at least some marriages. Blackmailers threatened to tell wives, and the attempted adultery of prominent people ended up in news pages. A New Orleans pastor, who was married with two children, committed suicide after his name was included in the data dump.”

The business was more substantial than you might think, too. More than 45 million members subscribed to Ashley Madison and it earned almost $80 million in revenue.

Regardless of what you think of Ashley Madison’s initial business model and extramarital affairs, you have to give them props for creating a business with authentic truth. That is, some people want to cheat on their spouses and Ashley Madison was a safe and secure way to do just that. But once the company found that the they could not walk their talk and provide a discreet way to have an affair they back-pedaled.

Now the company’s big solution to their problems is to sell itself as the world’s most open-minded dating community. Their new tagline? “Single, attached, looking to explore, or just curious.”

Snore.

Here’s their  their original laser-focused line: “Life is short, have an affair.”

Just as nothing will bring back the lives and marriages damaged by the affairs Ashley Madison facilitated, nothing will bring back the company’s initial success either. Because once the company failed to live up to their authentic truth of discretion, they cheated on themselves and created a new business model that’s answering the question nobody’s asking.


Three Questions Every Professional Needs to Ask

Posted on July 5th, 2016

The Three Questions Every Professional Needs to Ask.

As service professionals we all do the same thing.

Sure, I create branding programs and advertising plans and you write screenplays, reconcile trial balances, argue court cases, engineer air-conditioning schematics, run a convention and visitors’ bureau, manage finances, diagnose health issues, or whatever it is you do.

The Three QuestionsBut besides the actual technical aspects of our jobs, we both do the same thing. We use our talents, skills, education, experience, knowledge, passion, and time to achieve desired results for our clients or employers.

You fill hotel rooms, protect assets, improve health, reduce taxes, and recommend solutions. I help make my clients’ products and services more valuable.

As different as those things might appear, the way we go about them is the same. We each make a promise to our clients and then we spend at least a third (and usually more) of our waking hours living up to our promise.

The trouble is, we often work for clients who don’t actually know if we’ve done a good job or not. Sometimes our successes aren’t acknowledged. Sometimes our successes (or failures) are due to circumstances entirely outside our control. And sometimes our clients simply aren’t qualified to know how well we’ve done in the first place.

The Doctor’s office called the patient, “Ma’am, your check came back.” The patient answered, “So did my arthritis!”

So we all do the same thing and we all have the same problems: We have to promise our clients a successful outcome BEFORE we work for them and then we have to validate our results AFTER we’re done.

If that rings true to you, let me suggest three simple questions that I’ve started asking my clients. They can help with both the before and the after of our engagements.

They are the three questions every professional needs to ask.

  1. What do you want to accomplish?
  2. How do you plan to accomplish that?
  3. How will you know when you’ve achieved what you want?

In other words, “What is your goal?” “What is your plan?” “How will you measure success?”

I find that if we have a substentative conversation with our clients before we undertake an assignment, and then we have an honest debrief after we complete it, we not only do a better job but we can help assure a satisfactory outcome and a satisfied client.

What’s more, this simple bit of client service does at least two other good things. It sets us up for additional projects and it pre-writes the testimonial that our clients will use when they recommend us to others.  And both of these can lead to new clients and new revenue.

The three questions every professional needs to ask are so valuable that they should become a regular part of every client interaction. And listening carefully to the answers and incorporating them into your work should be a regular part of every assignment you undertake.

Because when you use your talents to satisfy those answers, you’ll find you’ll satisfy your clients. Regardless of what it is you do, the three questions every professional needs to ask are the three questions you need to ask too.


Unintended Consequences

Posted on June 28th, 2016

Unintended Consequences.

In my neighborhood — and probably yours too — there are new signs springing up everywhere. They feature a man bending over behind a dog under these words: “Pet waste transmits disease. Bag waste and clean up after your dog.” Apparently there’s an epidemic of dogs pooping on people’s yards lately because these signs are showing up wherever I look. And so are the legions of obedient dog owners who walk around with plastic bags — both empty and full — hanging out of their pockets.

At first glance the signs seem to make sense. After all, who wants dog poop in their yards? Poop smells, it’s unsightly, and it smushes sickenly between your toes if you’re unlucky enough to step in it with bare feet when you run out to get the newspaper in the morning.

Unintended ConsequencesBut wait just a damn second! Isn’t poop also used as fertilizer? And don’t many of the same people who go to The Home Depot to buy these anti-poop signs for their yards also leave the store with 20 lb. bags of cow manure to feed their lawns? Maybe they should be thanking the pet owners for helping keep their yards green and beautiful instead of lecturing them.

Instead, these same home owners demand the dog lovers scoop up the offending materials and isolate them in securely knotted baggies. This effectively destroys any value the dog droppings offer because after a short stay in the oxygen-free environment of the plastic bag the healthy organisms in the poop die and the fertilizer factor is finished. At that point the bagful truly isn’t worth a shit.

Unintended consequences, indeed.

I’m at a marketing workshop at a fancy hotel and I’m in line to grab a cup of coffee and a croissant before the boredom begins. Placed alongside the gleaming silver coffee urns are stacks of cups – both ceramic mugs and paper cups with plastic lids.

I don’t know about you, but I think coffee tastes better in porcelain than paper. In my mind (and on my tongue) the coffee stays hotter and doesn’t pick up any bitter taste from the cardboard. Plus, the mug is easier to hold, sits better on a table, and is easier to balance when I’m also holding a briefcase and trying to shake hands.

So why do people take the paper cups? Is it because they’re used to them from their daily Starbucks habit? Do they think the paper cups hold more? Do they simply not think of the difference and just grab whatever’s there? Or is there some other reason they prefer paper?

While I question why people would choose paper over porcelain, there’s no question why the hotels prefer paper. Despite their obvious ecological unfriendliness, paper cups are easier to handle and dispose of than ceramic mugs. They’re lighter, less expensive, can be stored in much smaller spaces, and don’t require washing, drying or restocking. Plus, paper cups don’t break. Based on this, it behooves hoteliers to save money by providing paper cups for coffee drinkers who either prefer them or don’t know the difference.

Again, an unintended consequence. But unlike the wasted fertilizer, this time the unintended consequence pays dividends to the savvy hotelier.

The importance of these two examples is to illustrate the phenomenon that while things happen that no one expects or plans for — Brexit, Uber, Zika, Donald Trump, skinny jeans – and while their consequences may in fact be unintended, they can present great opportunities to people who pay attention.

WTF and unintended consequencesAll you need to do is observe your own reaction to what’s going on. When you see something you don’t understand and you exclaim, “WTF??!!” understand that those initials do not stand for “What The F@#k??!!” but instead mean “Where’s The Future??!!” Because each time your intuition tells you that something odd is going on, it’s also telling you there could be unintended consequences in the making. That could mean that there’s a potential opportunity brewing too. It’s up to you to find it.

The 18th century British Nobleman Baron Rothschild said, “Buy when there’s blood in the streets, even if the blood is your own.” Rothschild, who made a fortune buying everything in sight in the panic that followed Napoleon’s defeat at the Battle of Waterloo, understood exactly where the future was going to be. Maybe after reading this blog, you will too.

Unintended consequences, indeed.


The Value of Branding

Posted on June 20th, 2016

Value of branding.

While I try to maintain this discussion on the powerful value of branding, some days I simply don’t have anything to write about. It doesn’t happen often, mind you. But now that I’ve religiously posted at least one blog post every week since 2007 (778 posts, btw) I must admit there are times when there’s not much to say.

There are a number of things I do to keep this from happening. I voraciously consume media – three daily newspapers, lots of magazines, and a number of websites and blogs – to keep up-to-date on our industry and the world around us. I think about what I want to talk about when I run my miles in the morning and when I’m out and about. And I constantly look for illustrations of good and bad branding examples to share with you. I also review a number of search engine protocols to see where people’s interests lie. It all creates a simple online focus group of sorts.

The value of branding. Marcel Breuer Cresa Chair.I’m also lucky that I’m so interested and involved in the subject that I always have a thought or opinion about what’s going on. Because of this, stories on diverse subjects such as increased travel to Cuba or the design of Marcel Breuer’s 1928 Cresca chair can be compelling inspiration for a post. Truth be told, my fingers often take over the writing when my brain can’t. That is, sometimes I just put my fingers on the keyboard and start typing and the thoughts flow out in an oddly coordinated way that results in a cogent post about the value of branding.

But perhaps the best inspiration for new ideas to write about the value of branding is the intersection of the business sector’s need for proven, hands-on branding advice and the vast selection of real world examples swirling around us.

For example, economist Paul Krugman wrote an editorial in The New York Times titled A Tale Of Two Parties. Krugman opined on the strengths and weaknesses of the Democratic and Republican establishments. Granted Krugman wrote a political column and you may or may not agree with his opinions, but what is interesting to me is that his op-ed on presidential positioning is really an insightful article on branding.

Krugman writes about Donald Trump’s primary success this way: “Donald Trump’s taunts about “low-energy” Jeb Bush and “little Marco” Rubio worked because they contained a large element of truth. When Mr. Bush and Mr. Rubio dutifully repeated the usual conservative clichés, you could see that there was no sense of conviction behind their recitations. All it took was (Trump’s) huffing and puffing …to blow their houses down.”

Politics? Surely. But what Krugman is really writing about is how Trump’s attacks defined the brands for both Bush and Rubio. Why? Because as we’ve said so many times before, the number one rule of both politics AND branding is to define yourself before your competition does. As Krugman noted, both candidates failed to create their own authentic brands and therefore paid the politician’s ultimate price.

These types of real world, real time brand stories are all around us. Whether you like or dislike the circumstances, the branding lessons you can find in these situations are always valuable. All it takes is an open and interested eye to see them. More importantly, it takes a bit of discipline and initiative to use what you observe to improve your business and your life.

At the end of the day, that is where the real value of branding lies – its proven ability to improve your business and make you money. Because when there’s a clear alignment between your company’s authentic truth and your customers’ aspirations, and when your brand can truly make your customers feel good about themselves, the value of branding becomes invaluable.

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Order All About Them for brand motivationIf you’re looking for more proven ways to brand yourself and your business, you must be one of the first to get my new book, All About Them. It’s available now for pre-order in hardcover, Kindle, or audio on AmazonAppleBarnes & Noble800-CEO-Read, and IndieBound.

“For sheer charm, there is nothing like a new book from Bruce Turkel. All About Them made me laugh out loud in the first chapter, but the magic is that you are learning from the get-go.”

—Chris Crowley, author of Younger Next Year


Brand Motivation – Do You Know Yours?

Posted on June 13th, 2016

Brand Motivation – Do You Know Yours?

We’ve spent a lot of time talking about brands and how to build them. What I’m finding is that in order to create a good brand for our clients, we find it important to understand their brand motivation. In other words, why do so many people spend so much time, money, and effort building their brands, and how will we know when they’re satisfied with what we’ve created?

Quite simply I believe brand motivation comes down to five basic drivers:

  1. Skill.
  2. Will.
  3. Thrill.
  4. Bill.
  5. Top of the Hill.

Skill.    Is your motivation based on the ability to practice something you do well? Many professionals – from accountants to zoologists, acupuncturists to zoning engineers – build their brands solely on their professional functions.

Will.    Perhaps your motivation is based on your strong desire to make something happen. Whether it’s an altruistic calling to make the world a better place, a need to design your environment, or a longing to build a better mousetrap, many business and personal brands are guided by the will to accomplish something better or bigger.

Thrill.    If your personal brand is built around the adrenaline shot you get from doing something exciting, then this might very well be your motivation. You don’t have to don a flying squirrel suit and go jumping off a mountain to find business thrilling, by the way. Often the pure entrepreneurial charge of starting a business and making payroll can be more than enough.

Bill.       Perhaps it’s almost too obvious to bear repeating but lots of people build businesses and brands simply to make a profit. If revenue is your primary motivation, and how much money you accumulate and keep is the way you keep score, then this is most likely your brand motivation.

Top of the Hill. Maybe your brand motivation is all about being on top, winning the game, proving to yourself and the world that you’re the best out there. If this is the case, then Top of the Hill is probably the reason you’re in the game in the first place.

Yes, there are as many motivations for doing things as there are people who do them. But if you step back from your marketing efforts for a moment and truly look at the why of what you do you’ll probably find some insight into building a better brand.

Good brand motivation

The ironic and counter intuitive thing is that the best brands are not actually about the person or company that creates them at all. Instead these brands are all about what that company’s customers want and how the company’s brand makes those customers feel about themselves. As I’ve said many times before: “A good brand makes people feel good. A great brand makes people feel good about themselves.”

Great Brand Motivation

Knowing your brand motivation, whether it’s Skill, Will, Thrill, Bill or Top of the Hill is a great place to start.  And it’s a great way to establish the most compelling intersection between your brand and your customers’ best selves.

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Order All About Them for brand motivationIf you’re looking for more proven ways to brand yourself and your business, you must be one of the first to get my new book, All About Them. It’s available now for pre-order in hardcover, Kindle, or audio on Amazon, Apple, Barnes & Noble, 800-CEO-Read, and IndieBound.

Here’s what New York Times best selling author Randy Gage says about All About Them: “Buckle up. Bruce’s book is a rollercoaster of riotous righteousness on branding, positioning, marketing, and the mighty madness of messaging.”

 


The Donald Trump brand v. The Hillary Clinton brand

Posted on May 31st, 2016

Unless Bernie Sanders can appeal to the Democratic Super Delegates’ sense of fairness and get them to reconsider their commitments based on the outcome of the most recent state primaries and caucuses, our November presidential contest will be between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.

As I see it, this election is an incredible opportunity for all of us to get a front row seat to history and watch some of the best branding minds in the country put their heads together to build their candidates’ images.

If you can remove your partisan hat for a moment and take a strategic look at both sides, let me share what my buddy, marketing genius John Demarchi thinks is the way Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump should build their brands.

Donald Trump Hillary Clinton

Photo: CNN

Hillary Clinton

  1. Hillary needs to build the case that Donald Trump is dangerous, inexperienced, and unpredictable. She needs to ask this question: “Are you comfortable giving nuclear codes to a completely inexperienced rookie with no legislative or diplomatic experience who incites crowds to violence?”
  2. Hillary needs to say: “Trump is show business. And he’s entertaining, like watching cat videos on the Internet.  But giving him the power of the presidency?  That’s not funny – that’s dangerous.  And these are already dangerous times.  When the seas are rough, you don’t find a captain who has never sailed before to take you to safe harbor…”
  3. At the same time, Hillary needs to talk less. Instead she needs to speak in sound bites that people can remember.  “We can build bridges… or we can build walls.”  “We can tell everyone ‘you’re fired’… or we can create jobs.”
  4. Hillary is not a natural candidate on the campaign trail but she’s a powerful symbol for the sisterhood.  She needs to stop trying to out-shout Trump and Sanders and speak gently. Instead Hillary should surround herself with people such as Bill Clinton, Elizabeth Warren, and Cory Booker who can make the sale for her.
  5. The woman card Hillary needs to play is simply as everyone’s Mom and Grandmother. Mom is about love, not hate. Grandmother has the warm wisdom of experience.
  6. I don’t know if Hillary is likeable enough to get elected but that’s the only question she needs to get right.  If she gets every policy point correct but people still don’t like her, she cannot win. If people think Donald Trump is attacking “Mom/Grandmother” Hillary, he will no longer appear strong. Instead he’ll be read as sexist, misogynistic, and a bully.
  7. This kind of language would slay at the convention: “For 240 years American women have watched men lead this country into wars… watched men increase income inequality… watched the advantaged and privileged deny basic social justice for the disadvantaged and the voiceless.  Well, I hear your voice.  And I’m pretty sure that somewhere up there in the 57th floor of his multimillion-dollar penthouse a certain foul-mouthed New York billionaire… well, he can’t hear your voices all the way up there in his ivory tower. But I’m right here with you and I hear you. I am for solving income inequality – not for electing billionaires to the presidency.”

At the same time, here’s what the Donald needs to say and do:

Donald Trump

  1. At every campaign event Trump should be surrounded with a diverse group of women.  For all intents and (photo opp) purposes, his daughter Ivanka should become his (virtual) running mate.
  2. Donald Trump should say precisely why he’s the candidate for women. He’ll protect them; he’ll let them protect themselves (NRA shtick); he’ll give them jobs; he’ll give their kids opportunities, etc.
  3. In that speech Trump should list the countries that oppress women and have given massive speaking fees to Bill and Hillary Clinton and their foundation. He should demand that she give the money back, or be seen as funding a truly global war on women.  Trump should suggest that women suffering in Iraq happened on Hillary’s watch.  He should position the refugee crisis as having happened because of the Obama/Clinton foreign policy.
  4. Trump should not hammer Hillary on the legality of her actions (emails, etc.) but by waving the flag in her face. Say she risked the national security of the United States and its operatives in the field for her own convenience. Trump needs to remember that people don’t care about the fact that lawyers say she violated the law.  They care that anyone would dare endanger American lives – especially operatives and troops.  That will make Hillary have to defend with, “I never put the lives of troops or CIA operatives at risk.” THAT video clip will live forever just like “I did not have sex with that woman” did. You can’t defend against a negative.
  5. The magic words Trump cannot say often enough, and always in front of a flag, are “USA, women, military, vets, the wall, great, and America.”
  6. Trump needs to talk directly to black voters and ask one question: “Democrats have controlled every major urban market in the USA for nearly 50 years… how is that working out for African-Americans?” He needs to point out that schools are a mess, crime is rampant, racial relations are at an all-time low, and opportunity for economic advancement barely exists.  Of course Trump won’t win the African-American vote, but if he gets even 15%, he can win the presidency.
  7. No matter how many people hate Trump, there’s something they hate even more – politicians.  And nobody embodies politician more than Hillary. Trump will brand her with two words – “Crooked” and “Politician.” In fact, the more Hillary tries to run on Bill’s magical ‘90s, the more Trump will remind people she is a career politician and that they hate politicians.

Regardless of whether you support Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton or anyone else, I hope you were able to read these suggestions without screaming at the points you don’t agree with. Like you I have a clear favorite and think the other side is an abomination. But what matters to marketers is what our consumers think – and in this case, our consumers are the people who are going to vote. Watching how those voters are enticed and seduced presents great lessons that you can use to build you own brand.

“May you live in interesting times,” indeed.


One Word Brands. The Key to Donald Trump’s Success.

Posted on May 21st, 2016

One Word Brands. The Key to Donald Trump’s Success.

Of the estimated $2 billion dollars in free media Donald Trump has received during the 2016 presidential campaign, lots of it has been dedicated to explaining his surprisingly successful rise as the GOP’s presumptive presidential nominee.

Some pundits acknowledge Trump’s mastery of today’s most influential media. As the argument goes, FDR mastered radio, JFK mastered TV, Obama mastered the Internet, and Trump is demonstrating his timely mastery of social media and reality television.

Some analysts talk about Trump’s appeal to an angry, mostly male, mostly middle class white voter who feels betrayed by both the current administration and the traditional Republican power structure. But even beyond that group, a majority of voters in both parties believe the country has been ineffectual in its response to the danger of terrorism and may be open to Trump’s message.

Finally, some authorities attribute Trump’s success to a unique time in American history where temperament and experience have been undermined by the desire for a show of strength unburdened by the complexity of facts or habit.

Regardless of what you think of Donald Trump the candidate, all of these points make logical sense. But I think there’s one more simple fact that doesn’t get any press – Trump’s mastery of one word brands.

One of the most important rules of political marketing is to always define yourself before others define you. After all, in the same way that nature abhors a vacuum, politics do too. Candidate Barack Obama demonstrated this when he successfully defined himself with two simple words – “hope” and “change.” But shortly after being elected, the visionary became a functionary and Obama failed to clearly define his plan for health care. And as we’ve since learned, while Obamacare is the law of the land, its passing required significant compromise and the program is still being attacked and argued by a party that defined the platform with catchy phrases including “Pulling the plug on grandma,” and “Death panels.”

Understanding that, it’s easy to look back and see how Donald Trump ID’d each of his Republican candidates with compellingly negative one word brands. Despite the exclamation point in his logo, Jeb Bush was tagged “Low energy Jeb.” Diminutive Marco Rubio was nicknamed with the patronizing moniker “Little Marco.” Ted Cruz became “Lyin’ Ted.” And regardless of whether you want to admit it or not, you knew each one of these labels long before I listed them.

Winning the presumptive nominee slot hasn’t changed Trump’s strategy one bit. Instead he’s been working hard to establish his one word brand name for his most-likely rival – the woman he calls “Crooked Hillary.”

But don’t rush to give Trump credit for coming up with this approach of one word brands, this tactic has been used many times before. Throughout history most American presidents have had one or two word brand descriptors: Dwight Eisenhower – war hero. John Kennedy – Camelot. Lyndon Johnson – Southern Democrat. Richard Nixon – Tricky Dicky. Gerald Ford – Klutz. Jimmy Carter – Peanut Farmer. Ronald Reagan – Cowboy. And so on.

one word brandsWhether or not the one word brands were accurate portrayals didn’t seem to matter, by the way. “Klutzy” Gerald Ford was actually an accomplished athlete who was voted most valuable player by his University of Michigan football team. Ford lettered three years in a row and played in the college all-star game. He even turned down offers to play in the NFL for both the Detroit Lions and the Green Bay Packers. But SNL comedian Chevy Chase consistently depicted Ford tripping over himself and the nickname stuck. Similarly, Al Gore never actually said he invented the Internet just like Sarah Palin never said she could “see Russia from my house.”

Keep your eye on the election proceedings to see how Trump uses his time-proven technique to attack his Democratic opponent. And also watch to see if the Clinton campaign not only defines their candidate’s brand before Trump’s name can stick but also uses the same tactic against Trump himself. After all, what’s good for the gander should be good for the goose, too.

And maybe you should take another second or two and figure out what your one word brand is before someone else slaps you with a definition that you’re not so happy with.


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