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By PASCAL FINETTE

The Heretic is a free bi-weekly dispatch delivering insights into leadership in exponential times. For entrepreneurs, corporate irritants and change makers. Raw, unfiltered and opinionated.

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Aug 27th, 2019

The Brands They Are A-Changin'

In the not-so-old days brands were about signaling and trust.

Signaling is what a brand stands for; the property you align yourself with when you engage with the brand. The once glowing and now shiny Apple logo on your laptop shows the world that you are one of the creatives, a rebel, a non-conformist, one of the others and not a Windows user.

Trust is a shorthand for your believing in the product quality of a brand. Gap’s brand is synonymous with a pair of chinos of good quality.

Today this is largely not true anymore. You can find impartial reviews for most products and services. Brands are not needed to invoke trust any longer. Trust has migrated from product or service brands to the aggregators. Gone are the days where you needed to trust a hotel chain with their brand and advertising — go on Tripadvisor and you know exactly how good, or not, a hotel is. Want to know how reliable a car is? Don’t trust the brand, trust your favorite car review site. Want to buy a household product of good or great quality? Don’t bother trusting brands — walk into Amazon’s 4-Star-Store and grab something off the shelf. Every single product is rated 4-Stars or more by thousands of consumers. And in the future blockchain-based supply chain solutions will take this all to a whole other level.

Product and service brands are increasingly only about signaling. Which is great news for every upstart. Instead of investing time and money into building trust, you can focus on the signaling portion. It is, to some extent, the reason why we see so many new, often direct-to-consumer brands such as Allbirds or Casper, be so successful.

What does your brand stand for? What is the signal? And how do maximize this in your customers eyes?


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