by Tony Fannin, President, BE Branded
Many people have the definition of what a brand is. Many think is a visual thing. Graphics, colors and logos are what makes up a brand. Some think it’s the name. Others think it’s the tagline that helps sell products/services. Now all of these are important elements of a brand, but they don’t get to what is truly the essence.
Brands don’t sell products. Brands sell an ethos. They sell what you stand for, a religion, an identity. The other things like colors, logo, name, tagline, etc. are all expressions of that ethos, but it is not the brand. Brands communicate a belief and a way of being. We look at them and see if what they represent is what we believe too. We all want to be a part of something great. Something bigger than ourselves. Brands allow us to do that. We wrap ourselves in their “religion” and become loyal advocates. One of the definitions of ethos is; “the fundamental character or spirit of a culture; the underlying sentiment that informs the belief, customs, or practices of a group or society.” As you see, it’s about spirit, an esprit de corps. This is what galvanizes groups. If your brand has a true ethos, people become members of your “tribe” not because of your product, but because they believe in your value system and ethos. Your product is commodity stuff. Because they believe in what you stand for as a company and the feeling your products give them is the reason they represent (proudly buy and wear your brand for all to see).
This is true whether you’re a Fortune 500 or a start up entrepreneur. People can buy from hundreds of brands of running shoes, but Nike stands for the thrill of crushing the competition whether it’s an opponent or yourself and people want to be a part of this ethos. A budding entrepreneur attracts clients, not because they are well know and have been seen all over TV, but because the founder is someone early customers believe in for some reason. Most of the time, purchases are not logical, but emotional. It is these emotions that drive the ethos of brands and that attracts the customers who want to wear their “religion” proudly.
What you make is easily commoditized. A great brand “uncommoditizes” you. It is the soul of your company and that is something extremely difficult to duplicate. It’s like someone trying to be just like you. They can’t pull it off. So, if you want to be unique in the market place, stand out from your competitors, then don’t market like everyone else. They sell stuff. Instead, sell an ethos and turn customers from liking your product to loving your brand.