Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek.


Let's talk about the thing that's been bothering you of late.

You're creating a business. It even has its successful days or months. And now you're thinking about what's next. In fact, you're thinking about running for president.

This is a natural impulse. There are already at least 20 people who say they're going to do it and you look at them and think: "Oh."

The big question, however, is this: "Will running for president be bad for your brand?"

This question has extra poignancy as presidential candidate Donald Trump just insisted to Fox on Saturday: "This isn't good for my brand, I think it's bad for my brand."

Some will consider a few of the apparently peculiar thoughts that have been emitted from beneath Trump's sub-fringe and wonder what his brand is.

Does it evoke a noisy, self-promoting, larger-than-even-American-life bombast? Or is Trump the last bastion of American values, standing like King Canute and demanding that the waves of economic history be repatriated?

Is he, in fact, Canute Rockne?

If he is, then running for president is surely enhancing his status as America's foremost blowtorch.

Your brand is merely a collection of feelings your customers have for it. It isn't your logo. It's how your logo makes people feel. It isn't your persona. It's how people react to your persona.

Trump claimed to Fox: "Maybe I'm leading in polls, but this is certainly not good. I lose customers, I lose people."

Isn't that, though, the charm of his brand? He loses people, he gains people, but he's always in the people's faces.

Once it was amusing--even heartwarming for some--to see him say: "You're fired!" The shtick wore a little thin. So much so that he had to limit it to other so-called celebrities who understood that this was all a form of entertainment, not the glorious unpleasantness in which we used to bathe.

To be running for president isn't merely good for his brand. It's a wonderful brand extension. He seems keen on firing Mexican immigrants, Chinese workers, oh, everyone who isn't American or who at least doesn't want to adore his version of America.

He appeals to a certain unspoken voice inside some diehard-- oreven "Die Hard"--American souls. Trump to the rescue, they think (and feel).

Trump claims to see it differently: "I gave up hundreds of millions of dollars of deals because I'm doing this. And then you hear about NASCAR, and NBC, and you hear about different people who drop Trump because Trump wants safety."

It's not entirely convincing that NASCAR and NBC are anti-safetyists.

It's simply that being associated with Trump at this time isn't, in their view, good for their brands.

Sometimes you decide to grow your brand in different directions and not all your customers and business partners will like it.

You then must calculate where the greater long-term benefit lies.

Donald Trump is surely now more famous in many parts of the world. When the election cycle is done and he has been narrowly defeated for the Republican nomination by, um, Mike Huckabee, he can--if he chooses--build more hotels and golf courses in expanding parts of the world. He'll even be able to make his golf courses only for the rich.

He will be welcomed as a famous person. After all, America is the world's favorite reality show.

Worldwide brand recognition just can't be beat, can it?

Published on: Jul 4, 2015
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.