Dopamine is what makes us feels good, that rush we get when we accomplish something. Shortly, dopamine is:

“Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that helps control the brain’s reward and pleasure centers. Dopamine also helps regulate movement and emotional responses, and it enables us not only to see rewards, but to take action to move toward them.”
Source: Pyschology Today

But what the hell does dopamine have with building competent brands? Everything!

Brand is a feeling. A person who gets in touch with your brand, will they get inspired? Will they be disgusted? Are you triggering an emotional response on the customer, and driving a sense of purpose in them? The ultimate goal is to have your “viewer” a part of your tribe with sky high dopamine levels when they enter a store or watch an ad.

Know Who Your Target Is

Since you need to make your prospects feel part of a Tribe, why not go really specific on your target market? I’ve been building brands for a few years now, and to me it’s just obvious that going specific is the best bet. However, I understand how intimidating this can be for the first trip entrepreneurs.

Read list: Tribe by Seth Godin

It’s any companies dream to “market” to everyone, but **the truth is that people have different passions, wants, needs and habits. **These are things you need to understand and find out to proceed successfully. The choice of a TV for you might mean high definition, access to Netflix, Spotify, YouTube, but to the Larry, when cable is enough, and he’s not even aware of the resolution because he’s visually impaired and probably needs a new glass anyway.

What I am doing here is giving you the example of how you start building a customer profile. You need to understand the demographs and psychographs. That is, where they live, how much they earn, their habits, age, passions, tech, car, food preferences and whatever else relates to what you are creating.

Whenever I get a client who’s saying that their market is everyone, it tells me two things:
– they don’t understand their product or service well enough in terms of attributes and benefits;
– they are first trip entrepreneurs, have never done it before and don’t fully understand the dynamics of sales and story telling;

I’m not saying that you’ve gotta be a master of sales and copywriting, but the understanding that you can’t speak the same way to everyone needs to exist in order to start crafting a competent brand.

No matter how beautiful and heartwarming a Coca Cola ad might be, it will not convince me, personally, but it might persuade you to buy their products. I belong to a different tribe, and I am aware of that. The Dopamine will not kick in for me in this case. But if I watch the WWDC from Apple (where they present the new products and software) I will go bananas, my dopamine levels will skyrocket, and I will assault my savings account. However, if you aren’t part of that tribe, it won’t have the same effect for you.

When you define who your target market is, you have a better chance to grow a powerful brand within that target market and secondary niches that derivate from it. Razor blade focus.

Let’s say you are selling powerlifting/weight lifting boots that have a specific type of minimalistic and clean design, flat colors, uses clean and bold fonts, no illustrations. The big boy Joe who takes hormones might not be interested because he’d rather have one with a bull, but Jake, who’s very active on social media, cares about his image, and who’s also an influencer and somewhat of a hipster, will love it. He gets so obsessed with your product he might even become a brand ambassador.

Now people that follow him will start asking about the boots, and will buy from your store. Slowly growing your brand, creating the opportunity for you to communicate and design for the tribe you’ve just acquired, creating a community and contributing with a good product that brings people a better experience on activities they are obsessed and passionate about.

It all comes down to passion.

Build for someone you know

If you have a product or service in mind, and you know someone who’s obsessed about it, build for that person. The reason why I say obsessed is because that person might know something you don’t, and they will give you honest feedback on what you need to improve. They are the passionate people who will talk about it to others who are like them, which is effectively what you want.

On feedback

Feedback is underrated. Finding a group of people who are willing to give you honest feedback is the best way to build a great product or service.

Now, that’s why when launching a brand you create focus groups and surveys: the very first people to use your product or service are the ones that will dictate the future of your endeavor. They are the “beta testers”, they will find bugs, things to improve, or ditch it completely (ugh, bad sign!). If you have a friend who happens to be in a group of friends that like the same thing, you could offer your service or product for these people to test and fill out a survey. Like that, you give these people a chance to be heard, experiment a new product or service and you get a change to improve. You can even monetarily reward them, which a lot of serious brands do.

Now, it might also happen that you are so way off you have to start over, or what they want and need has nothing to do with what you’ve come up with, even if your testing phase with that focus group takes months to complete. If you can’t create a habit around your product or service, you might as well start over. It takes about 69 days to create a habit, that’s a little over 2 months, if in three months not a single person created a habit, you have your answer.

The value of story telling

Apple is great at story telling, it’s one of the reasons I love them as a brand.

Again, not everybody will see the value of the products and their tone of voice, which is ok. Imagine if everybody belonged to the same tribe?

Next is a quick preview of Jony Ive’s satisfying voice talking about Design. Notice the choice of words. Pay attention to the tone on certain words, the subtle pauses. Notice that he talks about what Apple believes in and their values to then talk about the features and benefits of what they are lauching.

That, my friend, is the best story telling example you can have. Whether you like Apple or not, you can still learn a lot from the way they talk about their software and products. I’d suggest you go through some videos from Apple and make a list of words and phrases they use to describe their product and brand. That’s a great way to understand story telling in use.

Here’s a video of Simon Sinek talking about story telling on a TED talk:

Simon talks about how the why is the center of your story, and how that translates to what you believe in. That right there gives people an opportunity to mentally engage and relate to your brand, in a way they will feel like they fit in and are welcome. “Oh yeah, I believe in simplicity too!” said the hipster when they listened to Jony.

Once you start paying attention to these subtle choices of words, image and tone of voice, you will start perceiving people differently too. You will identify the attributes of a certain product or service, and see how people interact with it, and compare the user to the brand. It’s amazing the alignment that happens between a brand that is will defined and truly captives people and the person who is intimately involved with it. It’s like magic.

Why do “hipsters” like Apple? Minimalism. Why do some designers spend so much with Apple products? It works, and the design (Interface, product) is just out of this world. And for the hipsters, that’s what they value: minimalism and simplicity. Ease of use, no distractions or flourishes like Jony said in the video. Designers who understand the value of their time don’t want to spend it on things that work now but not later, that break and you don’t even know why. Things that get viruses and interrupt our creative flow. Function and aesthetics are values that we hold dear as well, therefore some of us who value the same things that Apple’s does and creates belong to their tribe (see how I am including myself? Can’t resist). Gamers, on the other hand, will have different computer choices, like custom built machines, Razer or Legion devices.

That’s another thing too. **You have to deliver on your promise. **There’s no point saying that you value function if your product or service doesn’t function as adverted. That’s bad for business, I hope I don’t need to explain why.

After going through all of this content and understanding branding a bit better better, could you describe your product or service, and as well your brand in a simple statement? Including the why, the benefits, and your brand values? Can you do it in a way that inspires? Tell me on a comment bellow!