Is Donald Trump Really a $3 Billion Brand?


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.[more]

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.