Your branding is selfish and broken. Here are three ways to fix it

4 min readJun 14, 2021


By Osama Masood

I was sitting in a copywriting class and we were discussing brand personalities. What I noticed was that brands selected a brand personality and designed all their communication around that personality. But what was disturbing was that the customer was nowhere in this conversation about brand personality. So in this conversation, I wanted to give you a taster of how brand personalities should be created, learning from one of the most admired brands of our time. I’ve identified three factors that would help you make a brand that can stand the test of time.

I have a radical perspective. I think business is service, it’s a way to make the world a better place, by solving someone’s problems and making their life easier. If your brand doesn’t do any of that, I don’t respect that brand, and I don’t care for that brand. And neither does the customer. When we shift our perspective to look at the world through the Service perspective we start to see that great branding and marketing becomes an act of communicating that service to the right audience. But it all begins with the right audience. Let’s get to the first factor of the four that can help you make an admired brand.

Factor 1: Problem Identification and Value Statement

When a brand or a company is based on a problem, its chances of success increase exponentially in my opinion. A problem-based company has a Service perspective. And in that service perspective, if the company has the most important and most fundamental aspect handled, then all the other steps are easier to accomplish because they build upon this statement.

Consider a company that wants to give athletes high-quality running shoes so they can achieve their dreams. Now if we want to help people identify, and let the employees identify the purpose of the brand in a nutshell it would be this statement. Dan and Chip Heath in their book Made to Stick identify that a complex statement or a nebulous goal does not resonate well with an audience. So if we are talking about a company whose CEO says that our goal in this company is to “increase shareholder value” then the CEO’s idea of that what that statement means is going to differ a lot from an employee’s understanding of what that means. The idea needs to be simple to understand. Let’s call this statement the value statement.

Value Statement

“We help athletes win.”

Taking this value statement and building an entire company around this idea would not be a tough thing. Imagine if the whole company comes up with ideas to do things and this would be the filter that would let the ideas through. Now we can take this and use this statement to communicate, help identify customer’s emotional needs, and test out new ideas and ventures. A value statement is a rallying point for everyone, establishing it for your company is very important. That takes me to my second point.

Factor 2: Understanding the Customer’s Physical and Emotional Needs

No one buys a quarter-inch drill bid. People buy a quarter-inch hole in the wall. And people buy a quarter in a hole in the wall to hang their shelf. People hang their shelves to tell themselves a story that they did something themselves.

So let’s break this down to Internal and External Needs

Understanding the customer’s external needs will help us make great shoes. And understanding the internal need will help us create great communication. Let’s analyze a copy from Nike to understand what I mean.

In my understanding, the advertisement caters to both the internal and the external needs of the customer.

Factor 3: Understanding Emotional States

In order to be completely sure about a customer or in this case an athlete’s emotional state. We need to put their emotions into an XY grid.

As you can see, if we place an athlete in one of the four quadrants, the communication changes completely. Since we have placed him 4th quadrant we can design our communication to help the athlete raise his self-esteem to enable him to win. We can design all our communication to help athletes realize that “they can win”.

Again, creating a product with great communication is like telling the buyer that a drill bid is going to give you the satisfaction of knowing you did it yourself. It’s just a matter of empathy and understanding your customer’s needs. Peg your customer’s emotional state in this graph and you can easily communicate to them in a way which that will resonate with your communication.

Taking these ideas and implementing them will help you create an admired brand that will stand the test of time.

Osama Masood is a brand strategist who helps tech companies become admired brands. He is the principal of Knighsburg, a brand strategy and design firm.




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