I recently came across an article on the use of persuasion in branding, published by Branding Strategy Insider. Written by Paul Bailey (@paulmarkbailey), it makes an excellent case for the use of persuasion in branding strategy.
Mr. Bailey, a creative brand strategist, gets right to the point. He notes that “Persuasion is not the most fashionable of brand P-words right now — that honor goes to Purpose.” Your brand purpose could be, for example, improving wellness (my example, drawn from the current Weight Watchers rebranding effort.) And if done right, it can “encourage people to become interested and involved with a brand.”
Branding at its core
Mr. Bailey asks, “But is defining a purpose for your brand simply another way to persuade people that they should be interested in your brand, or want to join your brand ‘tribe’?”
Mr. Bailey might not put it this way, but his question gets to the core of what branding is all about. I believe that branding should clearly and persuasively present a brand’s purpose, whatever that purpose may be. These days, we hear a lot about influence and influencers, and Mr. Bailey reports a dialog he had with a peer who believes that branding strategists are driven by influence, not persuasion. He comments, “If we are being tasked by a brand owner . . . to help them with a specific challenge for their brand, surely we have to accept that to seek to influence is not enough. We need to be increasing awareness and affiliation, but with the ultimate aim of encouraging desired actions – which fundamentally is persuading isn’t it?”
Not a dirty word
Like Mr. Bailey, I do not see persuasion as a dirty word in the context of branding, though ethics are involved. Certainly we would not want to persuade someone to do something wrong or self-injurious. And we should “believe that there is some value and benefit in the brand to people” before we make our attempt at persuasion.
Think about it. We persuade others—or at least try to—every day. Most of us have good intentions, so our persuasiveness is generally for a good cause, even if that good cause is ourselves. Most of the people we’re persuading are pretty smart about figuring out the purpose behind our words. So an attempt at persuasion is not necessarily beneath us or the influencers we recruit to speak for us.