With half the world's heads still spinning from the shock victory of Donald Trump over anointed insider Hillary Clinton, there are branding lessons to be learned from the Republican's successful campaign: being bold works. Being authentic works. Being distinctive, determined and direct, works.

On the other hand, "good" as Clinton is, is not great. And merely "nice" is beige and bland (Trump described the call he received from Clinton conceding the election as "very nice", perhaps damning his opponent with faint praise). With "nice" being nothing more than a polite noise, it is the unremarkable, smack in the middle of the road, which doesn't stand out. There in the grey middle is where the corpse of ambition lies.

The electorate in the United States, for better or worse, has made its choice.

In the aftermath, and under the principles of democracy, it is incumbent on the electorate to accept the candidate who won the most votes.


But the rest of the world can look on and see what it can learn from the rejection of the establishment and the embrace of the unknown.

And it's a masterclass in branding. Even as the pundits wrote him off, time and time again, Trump's consistent brand (which may even have extended to consistent bombastic disregard for the truth) endeared him to his audience.

He spoke their language, he appealed to their emotions and above all, he stood out. Time and again. Distinctive, audacious, un-ignorable. Always authentic.

Where Clinton consistently zigged as expected, Trump zagged. Like a flame to which moths are drawn, Trump and his campaign stood out (and yes, the flame can occasionally be lethal. Too early to pronounce on that one, inasmuch as the President-elect is concerned).

What Trump did, and what has appealed to the electorate in the same way that it appeals to consumers, is ignore the brand conventions. The message was simple and resonant: Make America great again. Nothing complex in that, yet no shortage of power.

The other slogan which has rapidly passed into the popular lexicon, replete with hashtag #draintheswamp: a real zinger to illustrate the widely perceived morass of corruption in Washington under the entitled establishment.

Christmas comes but once a year and elections every four in the States (we have one to look forward to next year; it is surely the hope of every Kiwi that it will not plumb the depths that the American one has).

Making that audacious statement doesn't mean plain sailing, by any means. In certain areas of branding (political, perhaps) some people will get upset. Some might even be offended.

But being bold means accepting that and recognising that for every one side of the polemic, there is quite another.

Read your market well, like Trump did, and you could discover that while the squeaky wheel gets the oil, the gold might be in the less noisy majority.

Breaking the rules isn't for everyone and there does tend to be a level of conservatism in Kiwi business. But that level of conservatism means there are potentially rich rewards for those who do stick their heads over the parapet and make bold statements.

It works for a slew of companies which understand that being bold really does win the hearts and minds of the majority.

Although unlike the Trump steamroller, I'm pleased to say that they tend to do so with a dose of humour - and always nice, not nasty.

Simon Wedde is group account director at Dow Design.