By the numbers: Trump's campaign is damaging his brand

A December survey of American consumer opinion, fielded by the BAV Consulting division of advertising and marketing giant Young & Rubicam (and the largest and longest running study of brands in the world), found that since Donald Trump’s run for president, the Trump brand has lost the confidence of the people who can afford to stay at one of his hotels, play at one of his country clubs or purchase a home in one of his developments. It is also rapidly losing its association with the gilded traits Trump has long promoted as the essence of his business.

In categories such as “prestigious,” “upper class” and “glamorous” the Trump name has plummeted among high-income consumers. Within the same group, it is also losing its connection with the terms “leader,” “dynamic” and “innovative”—quite a blow for a man who criticizes others for being “low energy” and considers himself an industry trailblazer. The brand has been a survey subject for BAV Consulting’s regular surveys for over a decade and has never before experienced such a precipitous drop in reputation. It’s the kind of change that usually follows a big corporate scandal, like a product recall or financial misconduct. But in Trump’s case it’s a man’s personality that is in play.

The billionaire Trump might brush off complaints about his politics; he might even shrug off short-term commercial losses. But this plunge in brand status would be seen as a crisis in the offices of any major consumer-oriented company. Public companies often claim losses in net worth when customers turn against them because of a public relations disaster; they call it a decline in “goodwill.” As a private corporation, the Trump Organization is not obligated to report any such a decline—or to report it accurately—but any CEO will tell you that a brand deterioration like this is likely to have a significant financial impact, affecting sales, borrowing and even efforts to attract high quality employees.