Noone Cares About Your Brand

Tired or stressed businessman sitting in front of computer in office

You’re scared to even think about it.

But you’ve known it for a long time: few people care about your small business.

It’s called IRRELEVANCE. And it’s deadly.

But the antidote is (obviously) BRAND RELEVANCE.

Can we talk?

Brand Relevance happens when your company creates a rational solution to a customer problem that is communicated in such a way that it creates an emotional connection that excites them to find out more, and buy your product or service.

Ultimately, people do not give you money because you are cool or likable. They give you money when you have convinced them, in an emotional way, that you can solve their problem. They have decided that you can do something for them. They are willing to even give you their hard-earned cash.

That’s Brand Relevance.

You can be sure of one thing: no one cares about your company if they do not know how it solves their problem.

But have no fear!

We’re going to start working on that right now by going through a 5-minute exercise that will help you begin to think about relevance, and why it’s so damn important.


Your potential customers will always ask this question: does your brand promise MATCH my problem?

If your promise does not clearly match their specific problem, or if your marketing materials are not articulating well how your promise matches their problem, then they will move on to your competition.

Your target customer is living a cluttered, complicated, and intense daily life. Part of breaking through to their heart and mind, developing a bond, is to be powerfully clear about why you are relevant to them very quickly, in a manner that is memorable, magical, and logical.


Once you’ve clearly and quickly communicated that your solution matches their problem, you must also communicate exactly how you will solve their problem.

The best brand promises communicate powerful solutions.

For example, the tagline for Causenta Wellness (note: a tagline is simply a short version of the brand promise) is “You: Thriving.” There is no mistaking the problem that the brand solves. When you are sick, or not living in optimal health, they will help you thrive. It’s what makes them relevant.


Once you’ve clearly and quickly communicated that your solution matches their problem, and how you will solve it, your promise must also resonate emotionally. Emotional connections, as every great brand knows, are just as important as logical facts.

When your target customer experiences a strong and lasting emotional attachment to your brand, similar to an emotional connection to a family member or a good friend, you develop a bond that today’s most successful companies, like Apple and McDonalds, are well aware of.

But how do we do this?

You do this by telling your brand story alongside the rational and logical facts about how you solve the problem. None of your customers live in an emotional vacuum. Give them the emotional connection to your brand that they want.

In the end, there is no need to be afraid that you are irrelevant if you can answer yes to the above three questions. The questions above will help you gauge your relevance, and you can be sure that people will notice you if you answer yes to all three.

And if you cannot answer yes to all three, then guess what? We’ve all been there!

And this is an amazing opportunity to be honest and turn things around!

So go for it. Get to the hard work of being powerfully relevant.

And don’t stop until people not only care about your company… don’t stop until people are knocking on your door all the time.

3 Ways to Develop Deep, Emotional Connections With Your Target Market


From “Mattress buyers are paying mostly for bad TV commercials, retail markups, sales commissions, and wholesaler’s profits.”

I had just bought a mattress a couple months ago, and the frustration was still fresh: how could these mattresses be worth thousands of dollars?

That’s when I saw it on my way to meet friends. It was a small billboard with a simple, blunt, curt message: “Mattress stores are greedy.”

It instantly resonated with me. This company that I had never heard of, Tuft & Needle—a startup that produces high-quality, less expensive mattresses—had just instantly built a deep, emotional connection with me.

The experience prompted me to think once again about a critical marketing question: how can any brand large or small develop deep, instant, emotional connections with their target market?

There are many ways to do this, but let’s look at three ways, using Tuft & Needle as our case study:

1. Touch on a common ethical/moral objection
The reason that I took time to pull over to the side of the road that afternoon was not a Tuft & Needle rational benefit communicated on the billboard. It was purely for emotional reasons.

I was drawn to Tuft & Needle simply because they were touching on my recent frustration with mattress prices. They understood my frustration. They “got” me.

I was fascinated with how powerful the resonance was.

It was as if Tuft & Needle were sitting next to me, listening to my complaint, and sharing in my ethical objection to high mattress prices, which seemed like price-gouging.

스크린샷 2016-01-02 오전 12.48.08

2. Be sensitive to aesthetic style
The second thing that drew me to the Tuft & Needle billboard was the aesthetics. Aesthetics and design trigger the emotional centers of the brain.

As a marketer myself, I’m very sensitive to design quality and style. The Tuft & Needle billboard was minimal and easy to read. But it also reflected recent trends in design that resonate with their target market.

Never underestimate the power of good design, and how it impacts the bottom line.

3. Understand the relationship between rational solutions and emotional solutions
To successfully create strong emotional connections with your target market is critical. But it is critical to remember that when people think about buying your product or service, they always make an emotional decision first (for example, I made a decision to learn more about Tuft & Needle because of the emotional impact), and a rational decision second (when I began to do research on the concrete rational benefits of Tuft & Needle, such a sleep quality and price).

when people think about buying your product or service, they always make an emotional decision first, and a rational decision second.

This phenomenon that people make an emotional decision about a brand first has been shown to be true in multiple studies.

What this means in practical terms is that, yes, you must impact people emotionally. But you must follow that emotional impact with a strong rational justification. It is dangerous to deliver emotional impact that is not backed up later with strong rational justification.

So how do we start the process of building a brand that has emotional impact?

First, you must clearly define your target market personas. Do your homework. Do the research. What kind of emotional impact should you deliver?

To know, you must put yourself in their shoes, understand their needs, wants, and desires, and also be absolutely sure you are solving a real problem for them.

Then you’ll be on your way to impacting people like me like the Tuft & Needle billboard when I stopped to think more about their message.


The 10-minute Branding Dictionary

Objective: Minimize the overwhelm and complexity of branding your business by learning key branding terms—in about ten minutes.

I felt completely overwhelmed as I sat on the floor against a bookcase in Seoul’s Kyobo Bookstore ten years ago, gazing at the mass of books on branding. I knew I needed to help my clients understand how to leverage their brands, but wow—what a challenge it was to sort it all out at the time.

Fast forward over ten years, and I have my own branding methodology that helps my clients effectively focus and reach their ideal customers and clients.

The basic terms you see below are foundational to that methodology. This list is neither exhaustive nor definitive, and entire books have been written about each term, but anyone who wants to understand branding must understand the basic terminology.

Think of this as your online small business branding dictionary. A cheat sheet. A strategic (unfair?) advantage.  Bookmark it and refer to it often. It will be updated on a regular basis.



A BRAND is the way that your ideal customer or client thinks and talks about the sum-total of their experiences with your company. It is not a concrete object, but a way of thinking and talking about you when you are not around.

Note: A brand is not a logo, a business card, an advertisement. These are marketing tools that contain the brand, and deliver the brand to the optimal client or customer.


BRANDING is the management of the delivery of your brand using key marketing tools, like your logo, business card, social media, or website.

Note: the term “branding” is also used more broadly to mean everything related to a company’s marketing and branding, but I define branding more specifically as the verb form of a brand—the action part of a small business brand.


The brand experience is a concrete event, a moment that your ideal client or customer has at one of your many touchpoints, such as a website, social media, or networking event.


The attraction that is created when your ideal customer or client is deeply convinced that you can solve their burning problem better then your competition.


How your brand is mentally perceived by your optimal client in relation to your competition.


A BRAND PROMISE is the BRAND POSITIONING in the form of a commitment. 


Marketing is the activity of managing and creating concrete vehicles that communicate your value (contained in the brand promise) to your optimal clientele. There are many different kinds of marketing tools, from social media, print media, advertising, identity, packaging, etc.


Any number of ways that clients or customers come into contact with your company and experience you as a brand. There are many kinds of touchpoints:  your website, business card, a support call, an email, the corporate identity, uniforms, interior design, color palette, etc. Touchpoints are where the “rubber hits the road.”