It’s no secret that President Trump really likes gold, but what does this seeming obsession with a single decorative style say about the new commander in chief?
On his first day in office, Trump replaced the muted-red curtains President Obama had in the Oval Office with drapes in his signature shade of gold — a color that is featured heavily in both his Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Florida, and his New York City penthouse (which has enough gold and marble to remind anyone of Versailles). His private airplane not only has gold-plated seat belt buckles and bathroom fixtures, but also a bedroom with “yards and yards of elegant gold silk adorning the walls,” according to Amanda Miller of Celebrity Apprentice, who gave a tour of the plane in 2011.
President Trump in the newly redecorated Oval Office of the White House on Monday, January 23, 2017.
Using a specific color to define your brand isn’t unusual — think of Facebook’s blue website or the way Coca-Cola uses red throughout their ads and products. Plus, Trump isn’t the only celebrity to have a signature color. Frank Sinatra loved orange — his Palm Springs home and private plane were festooned with what he called “the happiest color.” Former First Lady Nancy Reagan wore so many bright red dresses that the shade came to be known as Reagan Red.
Jill Morton, a color psychologist and branding expert who runs the site colormatters.com, said color preference is often arbitrary or even subconscious. “There’s no one color fits all reaction to gold,” she told MarieClaire.com.
In nearly all cultures, however, gold represents luxury and wealth, she explained. It can also symbolize greed and excess.
In nearly all cultures, however, gold represents luxury and wealth, she explained. It can also symbolize greed and excess. In “Nicholas Nickleby”, for instance, Charles Dickens wrote, “For gold conjures up a mist about a man, more destructive of all his old senses and lulling to his feelings than the fumes of charcoal.”
Trump brand gold chocolate bars are seen inside the Trump International Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada in 2016.
It’s common for the extremely wealthy to use gold to display their fortune, whether that’s the royal families of 18th century Europe — most notably in the palaces of France and Russia — or modern day hip-hop artists. “It gives them a sense of security,” Morton said. “It reminds them that they have the money to surround themselves in gold. It’s kind of like a security blanket.”
Gold is a complicated color to use in branding these days for a totally different reason. “In American culture, gold for a brand is kind of old-school,” said Morton, who consults on color for brands like Tylenol, Eastman Kodak and Dow Chemical. “The demographics of your target customer would think — if you’re talking about Gen X, Gen Y and some Baby Boomers — gold is a tacky, harsh color.”