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Is Donald Trump Really a $3 Billion Brand?

Posted by Barry Silverstein on November 25, 2011 02:05 PM

Whatever opinion one might hold of "The Donald," there's no denying that Donald Trump is a master of publicity.

The relentless self-promoter has transcended his notoriety in real estate. He has morphed into a national celebrity due to his appearances on his own reality television shows ("You're fired!" made him a household star on NBC's The Apprentice) and, more recently, his short run as a Presidential candidate, where he got plenty of press for questioning the authenticity of President Obama's birth certificate.

But why stop there? Trump is also a best-selling author, and his latest book, Time to Get Tough, is already stirring up a bit of controversy. 

In the book, Trump makes the expansive claim that his net worth is something on the order of $7 billion — around $4 billion more than Forbes' estimate of the mogul's net worth. A close look at the numbers Trump reports includes assets of $1.37 billion in commercial properties, $1.22 billion in private clubs, $652 million in co-owned properties, $261 million in properties in development, and $20 million for the Miss Universe pageant (Trump's estimate of value). He says he's sitting on top of $270 million in cash and debt of $379 million.

Uh, excuse me, but that doesn't add up, does it? That's because, according to Trump, his biggest asset is something he calls "brand value," which he estimates to be around $3 billion.

According to Reuters, a note in the book says his brand value "has been established by Predictiv, the highly respected brand valuation company," which "measures the financial impact of intangibles such as brand, strategy execution, innovation and post-merger integration."

While the actual brand value of the name "Trump" may be open to further scrutiny, Donald Trump can at least legitimately tout his brand awareness.

There are few consumers in the U.S. who would not recognize the name and the persona, of Donald Trump, even if it didn't adorn buildings around the country. True, the Trump name has been sullied in the past with numerous failures, including Trump Airlines, Trump Vodka, Trump Casinos, and even a Trump board game (not to mention a few failed marriages). But as the saying goes, bad publicity is still publicity, and despite the failures, Trump remains number 128 on the Forbes 400 list of the richest Americans.

You can't help but admire this modern-day P.T. Barnum, because love him or hate him, Donald Trump seems to have a way of always getting noticed. You can quibble about how he got there, but in Trump's mind there's no question that his name is worth $3 billion — whether it's trumped up or not.


John Bell says:

Presumably, the goodwill from the Trump name would be any amount over asset value. Assuming the Donald is feeding us BS on the assets, his $3 billion estimate for brand value only holds true if someone is willing to shell out $7 billion for the empire. Ever heard of anyone making a pitch for the Donald's company? I haven't either and I'm not holding my breath.

November 25, 2011 02:32 PM #

jeff buderer United States says:

The very idea of a brand is being sullied here. I say that because I think that a brand is based on good will not simply publicity. Of course brand managers and PR people who work with brand managers have a lot in common with political campaign staffs in the US because they are constantly trying to up the BS factor so that people will buy their products without demanding real value and integrity. Thats the problem with the corporate world today is that it is so big that it seeks to play on people's desire for smallville yet what they offer could not be further from that. So what we see is all this imagery that romanticizes old ways of craft building products when things are more mechanized and mass produced than ever. My thought is that Trump reflects the bankruptcy of corporate brands in that it (the corporate culture) is putting value on something that is shoddily produced and then at the same time undervaluing the ability of the American consumer to make critical and informed decisions about products and services. So please if you can going to talk about the value of branding in our lives try to see the writing on the wall: brand value is not based on publicity or the someone to get it alone it is based on the craft of effective corporate management and that includes providing real innovative value to consumers. And what kind of consumers do you want anyhow? I would think we want to instill a set of values in people so that they could be discriminating in making decisions. We dont want them to buy us because we do good publicity but to buy us because we are the very best and we share their values and commitment to being the very best in all that we do. For these reasons above I think the rational and article about on Trump is weakly put forward and does a disservice to those who seek to understand good will and brand management as well the development of a compelling and powerful brand.

November 25, 2011 05:13 PM #

brucemarsh United States says:

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November 26, 2011 05:19 AM #

Patricia Jordan United States says:

For anyone commenting that Trump is not a brand, please take a walk through Macy's.  You apparently are not aware of his line of apparel and accessories that are selling rather well.

November 28, 2011 10:19 AM #

Megan Bruce Australia says:

In recent times, his name and reputation has certainly taken a blow due to much bad publicity. However, the Trump brand still holds some power and recognition in America,

November 29, 2011 09:51 PM #

286A812F-852A-415 United States says:


December 2, 2011 09:43 AM #

Comments are closed

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