Starting a business or taking control of an existing one should always have a core strategic purpose. An essential tool for a business to achieve success is its brand.
But what is the actual purpose of a brand?
Hint: It’s not to “look good”
The purpose of your brand should be to synthesize a set of positive experiences related to yourself, your organization, your city or your country (you can brand a place for touristic purposes).
You should be immediately recognized and associated with such experiences, and establish a promise of value. A memorable brand will linger in your customers’ minds and mouths (and fingers when they post about you on social media). After all, you want to be recognized on the shelf among your competitors. The human brain is always looking for shortcuts and a good brand proves to be an effective shortcut for someone who already knows what they’re looking for (that is, they won’t necessarily analyze every detail of your product or service every time they need to make a purchase but rather search for the familiar (a logo, a color, a word, a shape, a face, etc.) and return for the same pleasant experience from last time.
To convince people that you are better at what you do and at how you treat your customers that they should drop the competition and come running to you or, if it’s their first time trying your product or service, that you are the only stop they need to make in their journey. After you, they should feel that nobody else offers what you have and compare them with you. There are three very practical means of persuasion (also called rhetorical appeals) stated by Aristotle:
- Ethos. You need to establish credibility for yourself. Whether you’ve been in the market for 50 years or 5 weeks, your brand should communicate a certain authority. Even if you’re a laid back, anti-corporation brand, selling skateboards to people who rebel against authority, you must know a thing or two about skating that makes you the place to go to.
- Pathos. Emotions are what ultimately move human beings into doing something. Everything we do as humans is tainted with emotions, for better or worse, and your brand should be associated with the right emotions. Remember the last time you took a car trip with your family or the first time you took your spouse on a date. What did you talk about? What did you laugh about? How did you feel? And what car brand where you driving? Chances are you’ll associate those emotions with that brand, even if it’s a different kind of car. So next time you’re out to buy a car, a good salesman will ask you what you’re looking for and get you all excited about that time you spent with your loved ones and how you’re (even unconsciously) trying to recreate good memories.
- Logos. Your message should follow an understandable logic. This is in order to communicate what it is that you can actually do for your audience and how you do it. People won’t find out if you don’t put it in their way (directly or indirectly, through brand ambassadors and word of mouth).