The billionaire candidate has staked a lot of his company's value on his name, so when he wades into political controversy it is bound to have an impact on the bottom line. Would you buy a condo from this man?
Donald Trump. For decades before his presidential run, he built his name into a brand. He put it on myriad projects — casinos, resorts, skyscrapers and a television show, to name just a few prominent ones. According to the Wall Street Journal Law Blog, he’s filed for more than 300 trademarks, many of which involve his name, including “Donald Trump, The Fragrance,” “Trump Ice” bottled water, and many that were later abandoned or canceled, like “Trump Steaks” and a cocktail called “The Donald.”
Financial documents released by Trump earlier this year said the company’s “deals, brand and branded developments” were worth $3 billion, “which makes his name the single most significant item in his portfolio,” according to Politico.
So, when running for president — and making inflammatory comments about Muslims, undocumented Mexican immigrants, the Chinese, women and other groups, what is the impact on that brand name? To start with, here are six signs that the impact is not positive:
1. Disappearing deals
One of Trump’s favorite boasts is that he is a deal-maker. Indeed, his empire extends into many industries and countries. But his comments on the campaign trail have cost him some of these relationships. Macy’s dropped his menswear collection. Univision decided it will no longer air the Miss USA pageant, which was partially owned by Trump. NBC also canceled plans to air any of Trump’s pageants, and it dropped him as the host of “The Celebrity Apprentice.”
According to the Independent, Trump’s comments have cost him the chance to host the British Open golf tournament at a course he owns in Scotland.
A Dubai-based retailer dropped his line of home decor products.
“He insulted 1.8 billion Muslims worldwide, and he has business in the Arab world,” Khalaf al-Habtoor, a Middle Eastern billionaire, told the New York Times in an interview. “He will lose because respectable Muslims will refuse to work with him.”
2. Prestige suffers among upper-income Americans
In a study by BAV Consulting published by Politico, Trump’s brand had been diminished among people making more than $100,000 per year — the so-called “aspirational” market. It was diminished even further among those making more than $150,000.
Upper-income consumers are now far less likely to describe products with the Trump name as “prestigious,” “upper class” or “glamorous.” Within the same group, Trump’s name is also losing its connection with the words “leader,” “dynamic” and “innovative,” Politico wrote.
3. Other countries are angry
It gets tougher to run an international business when people and leaders in foreign markets don’t like you. In the Canadian cities of Vancouver and Toronto, public officials called for the Trump name to be removed from skyscrapers in their respective cities.
More than 230,000 people signed a petition in the United Kingdom to ban Trump from the country. “The UK has banned entry to many individuals for hate speech. The same principles should apply to everyone who wishes to enter the UK,” said the petition. That was enough signatures to force the British Parliament to discuss the issue, though it was ultimately rejected.
4. He’s angered his ancestral homeland
Since 2006 Trump, whose mother was born in Scotland, had been serving in the post of a business ambassador for Scotland. No more. After Trump’s call for a ban on Muslims entering the United States, Scotland First Minister Nicola Sturgeon stripped him of the post. Thousands of Scots have also asked the Robert Gordon University there to formally revoke the honorary doctoral degree it awarded him in 2010.
5. His own employees are worried
Following Trump’s controversial comments about Mexican immigrants — which blamed Mexico for using the United States as a “dumping ground” for drug dealers and rapists — celebrity chef Jose Andres called off plans to open a Spanish restaurant in Trump’s upcoming Washington, D.C., hotel. Andres claimed that he expected a 10 percent loss in business, since the location was to cater to the Hispanic community.Trump sued, alleging breach of contract. Filings in the legal proceedings included emails, published by the Associated Press, in which some of Trump’s key executives expressed concern about the broader Latino population turning against Trump properties because of his comments.
6. He said so himself
In the summer of 2015, shortly after some of his controversial comments about Latinos, he told the crew on the Fox News program “Fox & Friends” that his run would likely hurt his business interests.
“This isn’t good for my brand. I think it’s bad for my brand. Maybe I’m leading in polls, but this is certainly not good. I lose customers. I lose people,” Trump said.
The Trump Organization, responding to queries from Money Talks News, however, says the brand is fine.”The Trump brand is stronger than ever and our properties continue to perform incredibly well both in the United States and abroad.”
7. Condo crash?
One of Trump’s major business segments includes condo projects. In older properties, his organization was the developer. In newer ones, he sold his name to other developers who actually did the building.
As discussed in the video above and articles like this one, thus far there’s been no measurable impact on the resale values of Trump branded buildings, and some experts have predicted there never will be. But that could theoretically change.
When you’re insulting broad swaths of the global population, like Hispanics and Muslims, that reduces the pool of potential buyers of your properties. That could make buyers of all stripes shy away.
On the other hand …
It hasn’t been all bad news for Trump and his brand. According to national polls, there are millions of people who support him, which is rarely bad for business.
Here are some other positive signs for the businesses of the billionaire-turned-politician:
1. He pulled in some high-profile endorsements
The CEO of NASCAR, Brian France, along with racing legend Bill Elliot endorsed Trump’s run for president. Civil rights activist Charles Evers, brother of slain activist Medgar Evers, also thinks Trump should be president, because he believes the businessman can create jobs. Trump has garnered endorsements from professional athletes and some well-known religious leaders, including Jerry Falwell Jr. People respecting these endorsers might seek out Trump’s name.
2. His support continues to grow
In the New Hampshire primary, he received more votes than past Republican nominees John McCain in 2008 or Mitt Romney in 2012. He’s getting support from black Republicans. In October – his lowest point – he was polling at about 22 percent among Republicans, that number has gone up to more than 35 percent. That’s millions of Americans who may not have become customers prior to his run and now may look for his name.
3. He’s still protecting his name
In theory, a savvy businessman like Trump wouldn’t put time, effort and money into protecting something with a dropping value. Trump however, is still waging numerous lawsuits to defend his brand name, most recently an ongoing suit against an Internet company called Trump Your Competition.
4. He might become president
If Trump wins the White House, it couldn’t hurt. While there’s no precedent of a sitting president whose name appears on so many buildings and products, the prestige that comes with the office would almost certainly rub off on his brand, making it more desireable.
Has your impression of Donald Trump’s brand changed since he started his campaign? Would you buy a condo in one of his buildings, or would you be concerned about resale values? Share with us below or on our Facebook page.