Despite having the two highest unfavorable ratings of any major presidential candidates in history, Republican nominee Donald Trump and his Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton, have outlasted their competitors--and in a few months one of them is going to become the leader of the free world.
What does success in the face of such highly unfavorable ratings teach us about personal branding, and what can working professionals at every level learn from it? The success of any brand--in business, politics, or otherwise--boils down to how the brand performs across these six key dimensions:
Develop your brand by design, not default. Know precisely where you are so you can discern where you need to go.
The Donald clearly has defined himself as the billionaire maverick, owing no one anything. Trump carefully has crafted his image as the anti-establishment candidate proudly going against the grain. As a general strategy, it has allowed him to get away with more than the typical business leader or politician normally would.
Despite Clinton's best efforts to promote herself as "the qualified candidate," many Americans have, by default, stamped Clinton with the brand of matron--part of the old guard of Washington politics. However, she has begun to pivot and is trying to find her way to a brand by design based on straight-talking thoughtfulness.
Every businessperson, from secretary to CEO, needs to start by assessing the personal brand they currently have and be truthftil about the degree to which it exists by design--or default. Then they need to take stock of the impact that current brand is having. Is your brand producing the reputation you desire? Is it creating the environment and responses you are looking for? If not, a pivot to a more powerful personal brand may be needed.
Anchor statement. What is the go-to description of who you are and what you do? This can be referred to as an elevator pitch.
"Make America great again." This single sentence has become Trump's signature call to arms, his reason why voters should check the box next to his name come Election Day. The issue Trump will face as November gets closer is how he will translate this general idea into specific policies.
To date, Mrs. Clinton has made her marketing bottom line, "I am the woman candidate," but that has not played well with supporters of Sen. Bernie Sanders (D.-Vt.) and younger voters in general. While Clinton's status as the first female presidential nominee certainly is...