Everyday we make decisions about our brands. What should it look like? What is the best solution? Will people buy this? To sharpen our instincts and make better decisions we read up on trending articles, indulge in marketing terminology and seek insights and advice from the experts in our field in hopes to demystify the world of consumer behavior and keep ahead of the game.
Interestingly, after every marketing lecture, article, info-graphic, or presentation I come across, I almost always leave with the same thought. I find that these “experts” are all saying the same thing, just repackaging the message and dressing it in fancy terms with the promise of changing the way we think and ultimately, the decisions we make.
But, it’s really not that complicated, and it is something you already know. Whether you’ve articulated it or not, it is something you’ve been learning your entire life, starting with your very first human interaction.
It all comes down to one simple truth:
To create a brand is to create a relationship.
The same qualities we look for in our relationships with people can be applied to brands. Think about the relationships in your life that flourished and the ones that failed. What makes a good relationship is the same thing that makes a good brand. A good brand is able to evoke the same personal investment and attachment that relationships do. People want to fall in love with your brand, trust it, and own it.
When you refer to someone as “your” friend, or “your” boyfriend, you imply ownership and choice. While there are many reasons for why we choose our friends or partners, there are three things that most consistently develop successful and sustainable relationships, and ultimately, brands:
1 // Attraction
Why do you friend or date someone? First, something has to draw you in, capture your attention. Something about that person attracts you to them before you even get to know them–their smile, the way they look, dress, or speak. Like in relationships, a brand’s attractiveness is the way they are perceived, by means of beautiful and intelligent design, powerful photography, a unique product, or a welcoming environment.
2 // Compatibility
You may be able to attract someone, but the relationship won’t last if you have nothing in common. In the brand world, we call this brand relevance. You become relevant only by creating value. You create value only by truly understanding and empathizing with the people you engage with. People need to relate and identify with your brand, your story. If it doesn’t resonate, you’re just another pretty face.
3 // Trust
The only way to earn someones trust is to show them over time. What you say must be consistent with what you do and who you are. This is especially important for brands. Brand trust is developed through consistent messaging, quality services or goods, and meeting your consumers expectations over time. The longer that you are able to prove that you are honest, trustworthy and provide a consistent product or service, the more lasting and sustainable your brand will become.
At the end of the day, whether you are developing a relationship with a person or a brand, it is important to remember that we are all just humans making connections with each other and the world around us. You don’t have to be a marketing expert to understand that. There is nothing to be demystified or explained. Simply develop your brand the same way you develop and nurture the great relationships in your life.
For more brand relationship advice, check out my sequel, Keeping the Spark Alive