How Trump May Have Affected Your Brand, Too

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(This post originally appeared on Inc.)

If you ever visit Las Vegas you’ll certainly notice three things. You’ll notice that there are lots of drunk people walking around the streets with big cups shaped like the Statue of Liberty filled with Margaritas for only $40 (includes the cup). You’ll notice the fountains in front of the Bellagio. And you’ll notice the Trump Hotel. It’s on the very north end of the “new” strip. You won’t miss it. There’s a huge sign that says TRUMP on the top of the gleaming high-rise.

Now…after everything you know about Donald Trump–his comments about migration, Muslims and even women–would you stay in his Las Vegas hotel? I have before and believe me–it’s an amazing place. Beautiful dcor. Great restaurants. Gorgeous rooms. A really well run establishment.

But it’s Trump. So allow me to put the question another, more extreme way. Suppose, instead of the name TRUMP on the top of the hotel, there was the name HITLER. Now, would you stay in that hotel?

(I want to be clear–Trump is no Hitler! And although my vote is still very much undecided in this year’s elections, I personally think Trump has run a great campaign and done an awesome job forcing his political opponents to tackle some very difficult issues.)

However, the very fact that I’m asking the question of whether you’d stay in his Las Vegas hotel and the very reason why you’re pondering your response is a problem for Donald Trump. So let’s stop arguing the point. This one small example puts to rest any debate as to whether his Presidential campaign is hurting his brand. It is.

Just a recently, there were far fewer people that would have taken issue with staying in a Trump property than there are now. Since his campaign started, he’s alienated many people with his opinions. Many of those people would’ve been customers of his in another time. But not any longer. Trump, of course, is wealthy and his brand can take the hit.

But can you?

Are you running your business like Trump is running his campaign? Do you let your personal beliefs, your politics, your religion overlap your professional life? Is there a cross or a Star of David hanging in your reception area? Do you hold “voluntary” morning prayer sessions in your conference room? Have you hosted a political fundraising event in your offices during business hours or let the candidates you support put signs out on your corporate property? Do you have anti-abortion posters hanging in your employees’ break room? Do you share your views about gays, Muslims, migrants and the homeless with anyone who will listen? These are all real life examples. I have clients that have done all of the above.

There’s nothing wrong with this. It’s a free country. Just so long as you’re not breaking any laws or discriminating against people. And that you’re providing a safe environment for people to work without being harassed. Like Donald Trump, you are probably very earnest in your beliefs. And like Donald Trump (and George W. Bush and Barack Obama) you’re probably a decent person too, regardless of what people who don’t agree with your beliefs think about you.

But if that’s the kind of life you want to lead then your brand, like Trump, will also be hurt. When you take a stand on an issue there will always be people who will disagree with you. And those people, like the ones that oppose Trump, may decide not to do business with you. And so you will suffer economically from your belief system. As a business owner, you have a choice: you can advertise your opinions and accept the economic consequences. Or you can keep your opinions to yourself during the workday and not alienate a subset of your customers.

Your decision. As for me, I’d rather follow my late father’s advice. He told me to have just a few beliefs. But stick to them. I believe that it’s important to provide for my family and put money away for my retirement so I’m not a burden to my children. So therefore, I just keep my opinions to myself.

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