Many people say,
“Your Brand is what people say about you when you're not looking.”
Or they might say,
“It is something that's authentic about you.”
While these definitions may be true, I think there's a higher-resolution way to look at a brand, especially if you're running a business — where your end goal with creating a brand is to earn money and gain pricing power.
And this better way involves factoring in a key ingredient that makes or breaks any brand:
Your brand is the customer's trust in you to do X, where X is a job to be done.
What is a Job To Be Done (JTBD)?
To understand this, think about what would have happened if Apple didn't realize that people would perceive an MP3 player that provided “1,000 songs in your pocket” to be more attractive than one with an “internal storage capacity of 5GB.”
Would the iPod still have sold as well as it did?
The JTBD Framework forces you to look at our product the way customers do. It simply asks,
“What job is your product hired to do?”
For instance, most people would say they buy a washing machine to "wash clothes," and this is true. But if a washing machine company examines the higher purpose of washing clothes, which is, “keep clothes clean, hygienic, and smelling good at all times,” then it might forgo some efforts to make better washing machines in favour of developing a kind of cloth that doesn't get dirty that often.
The JTBD Framework helps the innovator understand that customers don't buy products, features, and services; they hire solutions for a job they need to get done.
Henry Ford didn't think about the job as a “faster horse” but as “getting from Point A to Point B as quickly and as comfortably as possible.”
And trust is fundamentally tied to the customer's perception of your JTBD; it increases in direct proportion to how well you're able to fulfil that promise.
Consequently, here are some properties of trust and how it impacts the way you see your brand:
1. Trust is scarce — only a few can have it and these few have a massive influence over consumer choices.
This is seeing your brand as a cultural influence.
2. Trust is mimetic — if someone you look up to and admire trusts someone else, your propensity to trust the other person increases. It feeds on other trustworthy signals. That's why Word-of-Mouth beats any other marketing strategy.
This is seeing your brand as a curator (of trust).
3. Trust is fragile — it can take years to build trust but only a few instances to break it, especially in high-risk products like pharma or automobiles. Simply because people are risk-averse and register losses more quickly than gains.
This is seeing your brand as a role model to emulate.
4. Not all trust is the same — the uniqueness of the job to be done matters as much as the trust in the brand. Not all jobs to be done are the same.
People trust Tata as a brand but when it comes to salt, they'll be easily willing to buy some other brand as well since salt is not scarce or unique, it's a commodity.
But when it comes to buying Veblen luxury goods, getting the right brand is crucial for the customer, because it serves a unique job-to-be-done that cannot be done by anyone else.
This is seeing your brand as a domain specialist/expert.
5. Trust compounds and is built in the long term — it isn't the result of a one-off interaction but consistency and reliability over multiple interactions across time.
It's hard to easily trust inconsistent people and products.
This is seeing your brand as a legacy.
Depending on how you see your brand, the way you go about building trust may also differ. But fundamentally, brand and trust are synonymous.
To have a brand is to be trusted to consistently demonstrate a certain set of traits and abilities — a steadfast promise.
As an individual or a business, what is your promise? What is it that people can wholeheartedly trust you and rely on you for?
This is your brand.