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Donald Trump's new app tries to make personal branding great again

Democratic party presidential candidate Hillary Clinton has an app for voters so it's only natural that her GOP opponent, Donald Trump, would roll out his own as well. 

The America First app was quietly launched Thursday and since its release there's been very little chatter about it, which may be due to app's relatively unremarkable offerings. 

As you might expect, it allows you to receive updates on the campaign's event schedule, get messages from Trump's social media feed and offers links to the campaign's Instagram, YouTube, Facebook and Twitter accounts. All fairly standard political app fare. 

But where the app gets interesting is user engagement. After spending some time with the app, it appears that rumblings from some that Trump's presidential campaign is doubling as his own reality show aren't far off the mark. 

Here are just a few examples:

1. On the app's badges page (you accrue points for certain actions, which earn you badges), the entry-level badge labels users as Apprentice. That's right, the same name of the reality show (The Apprentice) Trump is most famous for. Coincidence? 

2. In the Trivia section of the app, the questions mostly revolve, appropriately, around politics. However, one question really stands out: "Which city does NOT have a Trump Tower?" That has nothing to do with politics and everything to do with branding. Real estate branding in the Trump for president app, go figure. 

3. Let's go back to the badges page. The top badge, which requires the most points, is called Big League, and is represented by a White House icon. Right below that? Merch! The second highest level is dubbed MAGA (presumably, representing Trump's catchphrase, "Make America Great Again") and the icon is the now famous hat bearing his well-known slogan. So in the realm of app user achievements, the only level comparable to winning the White House level is represented by commercial swag from Trump. Again, it appears that branding "trumps" politics in this app. 

In a report published in June, Vanity Fair editor Sarah Ellison claimed that, at one point, Trump sought permission from NBCUniversal to continue hosting The Apprentice even if he won the White House. In that context, the app's branding approach makes a lot more sense. 

Overall, the app is fairly well done, but when we tried to send an invite to a colleague to join the app, it ended up in her spam email filter. Make of that what you will.

The app is available as a free download in the Apple App Store and on Google Play and, to be fair, it enjoys a favorable user rating on both platforms. However, your mileage may vary. 

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