Extra! Extra! Fresh news from the ticker recently announced Ivanka Trump is closing her fashion brand. The official statement is that she has decided to stay in Washington to pursue a career in policy. But that’s not the full story.
3 Important Lessons in Brand Development
Here are a few lessons in brand development learned from Ivanka Trump:
When you put your name on your brand it is intrinsically connected to you in a very personal way
That can be a good thing if the public perception of your name/brand is positive. But it’s a curse you can’t shake if your name/brand is perceived as negative.
Speaking from my own experience, I do believe Ivanka Trump has exquisite taste, but when she turned political to support her father Donald Trump, I went to great lengths to avoid anything that has the Trump name on it. Apparently, I wasn’t alone. Before you call your company or product (YOURNAME) you need to be clear that you are exposing yourself to public perception of (YOURNAME). A potential acquisition of your company will be exponentially more difficult because it is connected to you as a person. In general, brand names that are not associated to your own name are much easier to sell.
Public perception is everything
In the age of #PursePower and #GrabYourWallet consumers look to companies that represent the values they believe in. As women make the majority of purchases in a household, this is a group you do not want to upset. What you stand for, or the lack thereof, or even worse—incoherent and false statements—can destroy your business.
In Ivanka’s case, she proclaimed that jobs need to stay in America and regurgitated the Make America Great Again campaign slogan while all her manufacturing was done in China. Add to that the mysterious approval of trademarks in China after she visited in a political function and the public collectively replied, “I don’t think so.” Once your reputation is ruined, that’s it—there is no recovery. If this were a typical entrepreneur story, this would be the breakdown phase.
Likability and believability for women is key to success, and that’s a tough one for us to swallow
In all honestly, I believe Ivanka is intelligent and usually has good business sense. I watched an interview with her before her father ran for office and I actually liked her. Once Trump became President of the United States and Ivanka chimed in on things that made me go HUH? the story changed for me. You see, when working mothers or single mothers see a privileged white woman parade her ability to have work-life balance (supported by not one, but several live-in nannies and helpers), women like me get really turned off.
Less than one percent of women have that option, so please don’t tell the remaining 99% that we’re the same. There is no recovery from fake because likability is already out the window. You must be able to relate to your audience, or at the very least, admit you can’t relate but that you have every intention to make them look good in reasonably priced clothing. That might have worked.
It is no surprise to me that Ivanka Trump couldn’t sell her business. The Trump name is toxic for a brand trying to be global. This is a great case study of a smart woman with every opportunity who miscalculated the basic requirement of doing business with other women.
We need to like you and believe you. You need to stand for something that aligns with our values.
These are my 3 lessons in brand development from Ivanka Trump. Let me know if you want to add any lessons I missed. Ivanka’s business went from millions to zero in a blink, and we can all learn something from it.
Beate Chelette is the Founder of The Women’s Code and serves as the Programming Chair for the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO-LA). Once $135,000 in debt and a single mother, she successfully sold her business to Bill Gates in a multi-million dollar deal.
Beate’s supports Business Owners and organizations who want to reach them two-fold. As The Growth Architect she creates training, outreach and sponsorship programs through customized Entrepreneur skills training following the 5 Star Success Blueprint that shows step-by-step how to grow, build and scale businesses.
In addition Beate provides leadership development programs for organizations that want to implement the ROI of Balanced Leadership through The Women’s Code, her signature system that educates leaders and helps companies achieve gender equality. The Women’s Code creates and implements programs that improve organizational culture, foster productive work environments and help companies improve their people ROI.
Beate is a respected speaker and mentor and is the author of the #1 International Amazon Bestseller “Happy Woman Happy World – How to Go From Overwhelmed to Awesome”, a book that corporate trainer and best-selling author Brian Tracy calls “a handbook for every woman who wants health, success and a fulfilling career.”
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