Building a successful brand both in terms of name recognition and business growth has a thousand formulas – including the highly beneficial but unpredictable strategy called “dumb luck”. While these formulas and methods vary, there are three immutable laws that every venture must adhere to. In fact, these laws are so immutable that when a brand fails, that failure can be traced back to one or more of these laws being broken.
The Law of the Transaction
I’ve often said that capitalism is only economic theory in the classroom. For business owners, it is reality. At the core of capitalism is the requirement of a transaction. In other words, something has to be sold to someone. In pure terms, this is exchanging a product or service for money. But this same rule applies to careers, ideas, movements, etc. The basis of this law is value. In order to create a transaction, you must create value in the mind and heart of the consumer. Of course, value is highly contextual. This is why you need to dig deep into your audience’s behaviors, motivators, communication style and more. While your audience decides your value, you get to decide what makes you skills/products/services valuable. This is why differentiation is so important in branding. Differentiation triggers attraction (more on that next), scarcity, demand and compelling sense of “must have” – all of which are tied to value. Finally, make it easy for your audience to buy from you. Simple value should mean simple buying process.
The Law of Attraction
Being boring might be the most expensive brand strategy ever. Being boring means spending excessive amounts of money pretending to be interesting. It means begging your audience to pay attention to you – often via cheesy or desperate marketing tactics. It means slowly slogging through anonymity waiting to be discovered. The cost of being boring is what prompted me to write “Oatmeal v Bacon”. The Law of Attraction is so powerful that it can be negate the Law of the Transaction. You could go to the effort of creating something that has value and a viable – and blow the whole thing by not packaging it properly. No idea is so awesome as to allow for crappy packaging. Strategically, the Law of Attraction is the first 10 – 15 seconds when your brand is discovered or promoted. This is in small things like the friendliness of the people answering your phones, to the big things like the usability of your website. It certainly includes logo and other visual elements.
The Law of Experience
If the Law of Attraction is the first 10 seconds of your brand, then the Law of Experience is the last 10 seconds. This law determines what your audience says about you – primarily around the experience. They will talk about how they feel, how they were treated, how the process went, etc – all of the essential elements to trigger word-of-mouth. The Law of Experience is based on thousands of small details – many of which can’t be documented in a marketing plan or customer service job description. This is why culture is so important. The Law of Experience requires employees that “ride for the brand” to fill in the gaps and take care of the customer. This doesn’t come from training or policy, but from having a culture full of great people. For years and years, the Nordstrom employee hand-guide said simply this:Nordstrom Rules: Rule #1: Use best judgment in all situations. There will be no additional rules. This is understanding the Law of Experience.
When you nail all three of these laws you reach a state of relevance. Relevance is the perpetual motion machine of every brand. As long as you adhere to the 3 laws and their under-pinnings, you will remain relevant.
If you are concerned that your brand is failing in one or more of these areas, I offer an in-depth brand assessment that is a clear-eyed audit of over 30 areas of your brand. In addition to the assessment, I provide a CEO-ready presentation of findings and immediate and long-term recommendations. For more details, contact me here.