Trump them all: Five things the 45th president shows us about using emotive language

While his comments often come across to some as ridiculous or outrageous, it's hard to deny his choice of words is powerful, says Persado's co-founder.

In this first year of his presidency, it’s been difficult to get away from Donald Trump. Love him or loathe him, you’ve got to admit that he is a successful marketer–working his personal brand all the way to the upper echelons of the business world and into the White House. So how does he do it?

Trump says himself that he has "the best words." On the surface his comments appear off the cuff, but digging a little deeper, there is something for brands to learn from his success. While Trump’s comments may often come across to some as ridiculous or outrageous, and whether his sentiment appears positive or negative, it’s hard to deny his choice of words is powerful. After all, one of his most famous lines is "You have to think anyway, so why not think big."

Analyzing 98 speeches and official remarks made in the first 100 days of his presidency, it’s clear to see that through his emotionally-charged words, Trump has an understanding of his target audience, their emotional triggers and their aspirations. Specifically, here are five steps he follows to amplify his own brand voice using emotional language:

Looking to the future
Trump’s campaign slogan "Make America great again" was focused on the future, and he has kept his language looking ahead since entering the White House. Using language such as "going to" and "will," Trump has set out his stall by promising future solutions for today’s problems. Similarly, brands wanting to follow this example could make sure customers are thinking not just about the immediacy of today, but the promise of tomorrow. 

Understanding audience fears
Trump’s tone gives the impression that his audience is in need of reassurance, using imagery of danger and hardship and then promising safety to relieve those anxieties. While they doubtless won’t want to terrify their customers with war, famine and financial ruin, brands that are aware of customers’ anxieties can, in turn, understand how they can address and ideally soothe them.

Keeping it positive
Despite alluding to his audience’s fears, more than half (53 per cent) of Trump’s words in his first hundred days as president were positive. Even though our AI language platform identified anxiety as being the third most invoked emotion created by his words, only a fifth of the words he used were negative. While not every brand will want to instantly adopt words such as "win," "amazing" and "terrific," positive words can have real power when getting a point across and engaging an audience.

Fewer words, in greater quantity
Trump has an easy-to-digest, recognizable style. He uses few, simple words and uses them often–for instance, "very" appeared 1,193 times. Knowing when to drop flowery, complicated language in favor of words which cut right to the heart of the matter can be a key part of appealing to an audience’s emotions. 

Being inclusive
Trump says "we" more than "I," which may come as a surprise to some of his critics. Using such language to create a call for harmony can, in turn, engage the audience and bring them with you–whether you’re looking to run a superpower or communicate with customers.

Trump isn’t the first to use words to his advantage, as presidents from Washington to Lincoln to Reagan have used the power of simple speech to great effect. This power is something successful communicators understand all too well. That’s not to say brands should take every single example Trump or any other orator uses to heart. But if you are trying to make people take notice of your product, service or solution, Trump may well have something to teach, even if indirectly.

Assaf Baciu is Co-Founder and SVP Product & Engineering at Persado.

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