Brand Ethos or Brand Name: What Means More to Consumers?

by Matt Weik

Ok, you got me. I’m guilty. The title is a little clickbaity as it’s really a trick question – both brand ethos and brand name mean something to consumers these days. In fact, it’s a very personal experience that consumers share with a brand they support. Some support brands because of their name and status while others support a brand for their actual brand ethos and what they represent. Can consumers support a brand for both the name and ethos? Sure. But generally, the consumer has a connection with a brand due to one or the other.

What the Heck Is Brand Ethos and Why Is It Important?

Brand ethos is the company’s core identity. It embodies the brand’s mission, vision, goals, culture, and the community they represent. When we think of brand ethos, it’s what makes us feel good about supporting a brand. For instance, if the purpose of a brand is to give back to a community, charity, or organization, people may support them for that reason. Bombas socks come to mind. This direct to consumer (D2C) company was on Shark Tank, made a deal with Daymond John and together their brand has made millions. But more than just the sales, Bombas has donated more than 39 million pairs of socks to those in need since they started their business.

Some supplement companies are also getting into the charity space with their business and purpose. If the brand ethos revolved around improving health would that be something that resonated with you? Probably, right? But the brand ethos doesn’t necessarily need to revolve around charity work or donating money.

There are plenty of supplement companies out there who have built a community around their brand that helps empower and support those who actively participate. 1st Phorm is one of the brands that come to mind and another is Ghost with their huge following and lifestyle brand.

Brand ethos is something to be proud of. It’s not meant to be kept secret and not shared and communicated. Many times, it’s this brand ethos that brings brand attention and can help increase sales and traffic.

If you have your own brand or work for someone, what is the brand ethos? Do they even have one or is the goal to simply sell a product or service and make money? Is the brand built around a brand ethos that serves a bigger purpose than revenue? Working for a brand or building one that revolves around a brand ethos is something to be proud of.

Brand Name Means Something – Like Status or Heritage

A brand name can mean something to customers. Look at Supreme as a prime example. For the life of me, I can’t figure out why anyone would want to spend hundreds of dollars on a plain white t-shirt that costs $3 but when it has a Supreme logo slapped on the chest it instantly becomes several hundred dollars. To me, it’s dumb. But, people walk around with such products from the brand – essentially telling the world they have money (or are at least faking it to look like they are wealthy).

Then you have legacy brands in the supplement space. MET-Rx, Labrada, Gaspari, MHP, etc. come to mind. While the fanbase has gone down for many of these brands due to the penetration of new “hip” brands coming to market, there are still some who stand by these brands due to their long heritage and status in the industry. Knowing that a brand was an originator in the industry can cause customers to feel a certain way and want to give these brands their business – and to each his or her own.

The downside with brand names is that (like what was mentioned with Supreme) you tend to pay more for a brand name that is trending and in demand. There are plenty of supplement companies out there with very basic profiles and formulas that are selling for top dollar – much higher than their competitors. Why? Because people are going online or into retail locations looking for that particular brand because of its name.

Is a Tom Ford suit THAT much better than one you’d purchase at Men’s Warehouse? No, they’re pretty similar only one dons the Tom Ford tag inside the suit jacket and pants. But people will still drop thousands on a Tom Ford suit even though no one will ever see the label unless they ask what type of suit it is and the wearer tells them.

It’s Okay to Appreciate Both

I’ll give you a personal example of this. When I’m lounging around or working out, I like athleisure apparel. It’s comfortable, trendy, and the performance fabric allows me to move freely without constricting my movement (especially when hitting the gym). That being said, one of the brands I support had a hat in various colors that read on the front, “Proud but never satisfied.” That message resonated with me and it’s something this brand has used in the past not only on their apparel but also in their gyms. So, I bought a hat in every color that had the saying. I like supporting the brand for both its name and its brand ethos.

Another example could be a brand like Livestrong. The brand name means something, and the brand ethos is deeply rooted in helping save the lives of those suffering from cancer. It’s hard to not feel good about brands that want to do the right thing and help people. I implore people to support those businesses.

Which do you tend to support more? Do you look for companies that have a brand ethos or do you base your purchasing behaviors off of brand names? Let us know down in the comments (don’t be shy, we won’t judge you).