I'm a huge Jordan Peterson fan. I've read his books, I listen to his podcast, I watch his YouTube videos, and I seek him out on other people's podcasts as well.
I've even caught myself repeating some of his phrases to others. Things like "set your house in order before you judge the world," "hierarchies are built on conscientiousness and competence," "tell the truth or, at least, don't lie," and "walk the line between chaos and order, that's where you find fulfillment."
You might think it's impressive on my part (and if you do, stop it, you're making me blush), but it's impossible to forget those ideas if you listen to the guy more than once. Truth be told, he doesn't deviate a whole lot from a few central tenants, which makes them easy to recognize and remember. It's these central ideas that become the pillars for all his other ideas to stand upon. Even when he does deviate, you can link it back to his core beliefs.
What does this have to do with branding?
Beat the hell out of one idea and let your brand become known for it, that's how you gain brand authority.
If you aren't getting tired of touting your idea about how the world should be different, then you aren't sending your message enough.
An anecdotal example: I've tried to become synonymous with the word "rebel," I've been using it for over a year. It wasn't until a couple months ago that I started having others say the word to me. Point being, it took more than a year of getting that idea out there to have others recognize it and associate me with it.
Say your idea. After that, say it again. Finally, say it again to my face. Eventually, I'll remember it.
When we think of the most confident people we know, be it a politician, an entrepreneur, a mentor, thought leader, or a friend we admire, I'm willing to bet they never claim to be the best at what they do. If they did, it would be hard to respect them as much because it feels like they have to puff up their chest to make an impression. What's strange is that most business owners take this approach in branding their company. They plaster words like "best," "quality," "choice," "preferred," and a gaggle of other superlatives that hold no ground. Why?
I believe that asserting claims like this is done to veil the flaws of these organizations. They can claim to be the best all they want, but it doesn't take away from the fact that they cannot be everything to everyone. Or that new companies with new ideas come up everyday that can beat them in price, speed, and accuracy. Their claim of being the best loses its validity the minute they stop thinking of themselves. As for consumers, the claim loses its potency once they see 30 other competitors that claim the same thing on Google.
Claiming you are the best is a feeble means at persuading someone to do business with you. Is that really the extent of your personality? Do you lack so much confidence in your brand that you have to cover it in a lie? Nothing connotes a greater lack of maturity and competence than such action.
Confidence is not saying "we are the best." Confidence is saying "we know we can't do everything and we can't help everyone, but this is who we are. Whether you like it or not is cool with us."
So, are you going to be the best or be yourself?
Before you touch a new name, logo, or messaging, it is imperative to list out the values of your startup. I know what you're thinking, "values? We have those. Honesty, Courage, and Innovation."
Cool, but do you know what they mean? What they really mean? I think I know what they mean, but there are nuances about these virtues that unlock their importance.
Values are nothing without their definitions. Specifically, they are nothing without your definition of them.
Here's what I mean: I define honesty as telling the truth regardless of how it will make others feel or what it does to your image. Is that how you define honesty? Maybe, but you can't instill that into your startup and turn it into an actionable element unless you define it for yourself. Your definition will vary slightly and that's where the magic of your brand comes into play.
Give it a go, whatever your values are, define them in your own words.