The doorbell rings at night and you look through the peephole to see two police officers. Do you open the door? Now how about the doorbell rings and you see two strangers in street clothes outside. Would you be just as likely to open the door? Most likely not. You would have probably judged the police officers by their uniform, guns and badges and see them as credible, whereas the strangers would lack any clothing or proof of authority.
We grow up to respond to authority figures, from our parents to the characters on the TV. We know to obey our parents, otherwise we may be punished, or that teachers are people to look up to for knowledge. That’s why marketing tactics involve brand building with authority, which leads to credibility, and thus helps influence others in the art of persuasion.
The Fifth Face to Persuasion is the Law of Authority
When marketing communications quote vague authorities, that “experts say this is their preferred brand,” you may wonder who these experts are. What credentials do they have? Why will you trust them? Do they have a vested interest? Simply having authority may not be enough, but you will have to establish credibility.
There’s a reason why more definite and distinct celebrity endorsements or expert testimonials work. When building your brand identity, you should select people that are most suitable for your product or service. Do they have relevant knowledge or qualifications? Are they trustworthy, or do people regard them as trustworthy? Even physical attractiveness may come across as someone of credibility. When you see a person on the screen, whether they are a celebrity, policeman, lawyer, politician, doctor or guru, if a product or service is good enough for them, then it must be good enough for you.
What ways can you express yourself or your brand identity and authority?
Lavelle, J 2010, ‘6 Laws of Influence’, Psychology Today, no.2, viewed 12 November 2012, <http://www.blueiceconsulting.co.uk/documents/6_Laws_of_Influence_-_Part2_-_JonLavelle_000.pdf>.