joined:Jan 22, 2005
This is how I explain "brand" to my clients, no matter if it is a personal brand or a business brand.
It's not about a logo or a slogan.
You have a brand as soon as people get an impression of your trustworthiness.
What brings about trust has been studied for years and years. I've boiled it down to three factors:
The higher your competence, the strength of your integrity and how you are perceived as caring all weigh in on the power of your brand.
If you look at McDonald's, everything they do works to hit on one of those three points. Trust is vital if you are asking people to put your product in their mouth and swallow it. Hospitals, same thing. But, really, every person and every business wants to be trusted. Is Google trusted? How do they measure on 1, 2, & 3?
Number 3 (showing caring) explains the Google Doodle and things such as this (announced today):
Simple! Well, no. Obviously not. But, let me make it even more complicated...
Not everyone, even in the same audience, values integrity, caring, and competence the same way. And, the weight of each of these elements of trust can shift, even in an individual. The context can change depending upon when the message is given. Where the message appears and, of course, who is sending the message can also make a difference. Context matters.
Therefore, in building your brand, are you communicating your caring when your key audiences are more concerned about your competence? Or the other way around–super competent, but not caring. Etc. (Insert your personal case studies.)
And, I say it again to stress it, the measures can shift. Red Cross cares. That's why I trust the Red Cross. But then Red Cross screws up. Ug, a problem. (Interestingly, the screw ups are generally regarding by the public as Red Cross not caring.)
One of the major fun things about the TV show House was how the doctor was so competent he didn't have to care. I loved that. Or even have integrity (came in late, disappeared when needed, etc). Drama. But, viewers began to dislike the main character and the writers had to adapt. Eventually, the ruined the show (for me) by making House more caring.
Back to real life... Different audiences put different weight on the different aspects of trust. But, for all audiences, all three are important, always. Screw up on any three too much, and you're dead. Even if you are Dr. House. Once trust is lost, it's almost impossible to get back.
Strive to be competent (little things mean a lot; bad spelling kills me), do what you say you are going to do (this is much harder than you think, you have to meet expectations), and show that you give a rip (if you are in it just for the money, you'll have a problem). Do that, and you'll have a strong brand.