Ivana Trump knows how to build a brand, because she’s done it. She knows what to expect from a brand, because she shops them. Trump says retailers need to build their brands to be successful, and during her keynote presentation on Friday morning, she told her audience how to do it.
“When I first married ‘The Donald,’ he was a young man with far-reaching vision,” she said. “Unknown in the media, with no image to speak of but with dreams of glory and of changing the skyline of New York.
“We were a team. The Donald changed the skyline, and I changed the interiors. Donald wanted to build the biggest and best; I wanted to create an experience of wealth, splendor, and pampering for all guests who visited our properties.”
Today, the Trump name is synonymous with quality, wealth, fame, notoriety, family, and celebrity, “qualities that most Americans aspire to,” Trump said. “So much of what we accomplished was in the achievements themselves. So much can also be attributed to how the media perceived our images.”
The penthouse apartments, the oversized yacht, the glorious estates, the gold leafing all accomplished what they set out to do. “It created in everyone’s minds that buying ‘Trump’ meant buying quality, status, prestige, and envy,” Trump explained.
How does this relate to the retail jeweler? “I believe that this form of branding is available to most companies, especially ones selling prestige products, such as you.”
Trump said, “Image sells. Our modern day Medicis—the movie, television, and music stars who define our world—attend every award show draped in jewels from the world’s most famous jewelers. Harry Winston created the red carpet for breathtaking diamonds, and Van Cleef, Tiffany, Bulgari, Cartier, and every brand in between rushed in. The advertising value of this ‘image’ marketing is without peer,” she said.
But what if your brand isn’t highly visible? “I would strongly suggest that an image-enhancing publicity campaign be launched,” Trump said. You can loan jewelry to high-profile citizens, or “for local models to wear to high-end events.” She also recommended sponsoring key charity events.
“Become the local expert,” Trump said. “When a story is being written or filmed, when you have pitched a jewelry occasion story, whatever it is, get the media to interview you. You are your company’s best salesperson. You are the proven expert. Remember, publicity is the ‘free’ advertising we all dream about.”
Trump asked, “Does anyone in this room honestly think that you would put such a premium on my image if it weren’t constantly enhanced by media? That is what you need to do for your own business.”
Trump suggested that a jeweler carve a niche in something glamorous, like over-the-top timepieces. “Men love them. And they are a great investment.” Trump said she has several men friends who own millions of dollars worth of “fantastic watches” and “preen like a peacock” when they wear them. “Men feel no hesitation in wearing diamonds on the face of an evening watch.”
Another suggestion: Be the “go-to jeweler” for outstanding stones.
“There are great brand names in jewelry,” Trump noted. “You know them all: Tiffany, Cartier, Buccellati, Fred Leighton, Lori Redkin.… But many of them are not available in your communities. And this gives you the opportunity of creating your own image for prestige, elegance, wealth, and brand loyalty.”
Trump also noted that packaging is a major factor in branding. “If image is everything, then how you wrap it is a key ingredient.” She recalled an experience that happened when she sold her “House of Ivana” products on television home shopping, when she discovered that the packaging, furnished by the network, was not her image. “I was amazed. I was angry. I was upset when they showed me the boxes and paper to ship my product. It was not my image, nor the one my customers wanted to purchase and pursue. So we created a highly stylized packing unit—gold crest imprinted on high-gloss royal red with gold tissue. Before you even opened the box, you felt as if you were going to open a very expensive product.”
If you are selling image, you must remember that location has a major impact on that image. “In New York real estate the mantra is ‘location, location, location,’ ” said Trump. “You must operate your store from a prestige address.
“Remember,” said Trump, “you’re not only selling quality merchandise, you’re selling image.”