Signalling as a branding-tool

A great deal of human communication is led by nonverbal cues. Studies vary between 50 to 93%. What matters for this article is, that we constantly signal the other party, what our intentions are by the way we act, how we behave, our facial expressions, the way we speak or our tone of voice.

Let`s label them Signals. Signals we intuitively send, so that the other party may be convinced by our argument or that we appeal more attractive. Most of the time, we don’t have a clear rationally defined goal of the signals we want to send to the other person. This works for normal everyday communication but for brands and businesses, it is important to clearly state the goals and thereby strategies the signals that should lead towards it. Building a Brand Reputation is like building a relationship. The business needs to appeal in a way and signal, that it has something to offer to its customer. But deciding whether we buy something at a store relies on trust in the product, in the store or the salesperson.

Therefore Pre-Purchase signals aim towards signalling trust.The best way to signal trust is by emphasising having something to lose. A person with a good reputation is not going to risk it by ripping me off. A Cafè with expensive furniture is not going to risk its customer base by serving bad quality coffee for a high price. Otherwise, they wouldn’t be able to sustain their luxury shop in the city centre.
A generation-lasting business is not going to risk a law suite and going bankrupt over screwing one customer.
The list can go on and on. We signal trust by showing people that we have something to lose. This works more nonverbal than verbal. Verbally everything can be sad and people tend not to believe it. It needs to be demonstrated, shown to or felt by them.

After-purchase signalling is where the brand-building aspect comes into play. We for now assume the customer experience was good, as this is the basis for building a brand with recurring customers. The business has to show the customer, that it wants a long-lasting relationship. That is, as stated above, better shown than talked about. Signalling a commitment is to invest in the future. Take an engagement ring as an example. If you think the marriage will last, you will invest more money as you want to have the best ring possible. This isn’t logic but rather psycho-logic.

The psycho-logic approach would be to gift them something alongside the product without expecting anything back. It is repairing the product for free if it breaks or making an investment in a different way. This as the ring example, shows your commitment in a psycho-logic way, as from an economical standpoint, it doesn’t increase the chances of a return for that customer. Psycho-logic dictated, that the opposite is true.


As a business, it is important to know the goal of one’s communication and to give nonverbal but clear signals that one can be trusted and is committed to future exchanges by valuing the customer not only the money.

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