After watching the recent plethora of presidential debates and primary speeches, and listening to broadcasters analyze candidates’ every word, gesture, and nuance, I’ve come to a conclusion. There are two candidate attributes that will win the day: inspiration and aspiration.

That got me thinking (yes, it happens occasionally). Aren’t these important features of a strong brand? Why, yes!

Merriam-Webster’s simple definition of “inspiration”:

  • something that makes someone want to do something or that gives someone an idea about what to do or create : a force or influence that inspires someone
  • a person, place, experience, etc., that makes someone want to do or create something
  • a good idea

When you watch the top candidates’ speeches, their supporters are cheering, waving posters, clapping and demonstrating exultation. They are truly inspired!

5 Ways to Make Your Brand Inspirational

1. Add a sense of wonder and admiration

Darwin defined admiration as a mixture of surprise, pleasure, and approval, as well as astonishment. Surprise your customers, giving them something additional and unexpected. This creates a sense of pleasure and approval, especially if what you gave them is valuable to them.

Here’s an example: Suppose you go to a restaurant for dinner and the meal and service are excellent. You feel satiated and content. Your server shows up with the dessert menu and asks you to select whichever one you want—on the house! Now I ask you… does this gesture of appreciation surprise you? Does it give you pleasure? If you’re like most people, I imagine that you’ll say yes!

Now what if the server selected a complimentary dessert and brought it to your table? Would you have the same reaction? You may if you like the dessert you receive. But, what if it’s something you don’t like, or you have an allergy to one or more of its ingredients? Will you have the same sense of wonder and surprise? See?

2. Listen and understand your customers

When you listen and truly understand customers’ challenges and problems, you’ll be better able to recommend the best solutions for their needs. And, when your products or services are not the best solutions, you’ll inspire customers by advising them accordingly. Score even extra points if you tell them where they can find the best solutions!

3. Be honest and forthright

“You can’t earn customers’ trust if you lie, stretch the truth, or gloss over problems. When you’re open and honest with them, they’ll respect you. You’ll begin to gain their confidence.” (Beyond Your Logo: 7 Brand Ideas That Matter Most For Small Business Success, ©2015)

Here’s an example: Suppose you’re shopping for a new outfit. You try on several options, analyze how you look in the three-way mirror, and choose the one you like the most.

But, you’re still unsure so you ask the salesperson her opinion. She examines you from head to toe and asks you to turn around, before telling you that she’s not crazy about it on you, that it pulls in the back. Do you feel inspired by her honesty? Do you feel gratitude that you didn’t buy the item only to discover later that it wasn’t ideal? Her forthrightness saved you a trip to return the outfit.

4. Be positive

I believe that the eventual party nominees will demonstrate positivity and not negative complaining and whining. I may end up being wrong, but people tend to gravitate to positive people who make them feel good.

“If you (or employees) come to work edgy, grumpy, or unhappy, it will surely come through to your internal and external customers. You may think you’re demonstrating a positive attitude, but your voice inflections and body language may say something else altogether.” (Beyond Your Logo: 7 Brand Ideas That Matter Most For Small Business Success, ©2015)

Look how Ohio Gov. John Kasich placed second in the New Hampshire primary. He’s the only positive candidate on the Republican side.

“Something big happened tonight and let me tell you what it is…we have had tens and tens of millions of dollars spent against us with negative advertising,” Kasich said in his speech. “We never went negative because we have more good to sell than to spend our time being critical of somebody else.”

5. Be sincere, respectful, and human

One of the most damaging comments voters can make is that they don’t trust a particular candidate because they don’t think s/he is sincere. Whether the candidate’s reputation has been tainted by the media, his/her opponents, or previous behaviors, perception is everything.

Being human and sincere go a long way in earning a good brand reputation. Coming across as too scripted (Marco Rubio) or too guarded (Hillary Clinton) can hinder your ability to connect with customers and inspire them.

“Treat your customers with the same respect and warmth as you do to your friends, neighbors, and colleagues.” (Beyond Your Logo: 7 Brand Ideas That Matter Most For Small Business Success, ©2015)