Make your marketing better with Ethos, Pathos and Logos.

The world is fake!

Fake news. Fake magical advertising formulas. Fake text messages. Fake emails. Fake accounts. Fake shell companies in Panama. Fake election choices. Fake people who don’t do what they say. ‘It’s all click bait’. ‘It’s too good to be true’. ‘It’s more media manufactured consent.’ ‘It’s mountebank marketing jargon’. Customers are more informed and more suspicious these days. 

Illegal wars under false pretences of ‘freedom and democracy’ pushed by the mainstream. Broken political systems focused on smear and fear campaigning for short term gain. The partisan echo chamber epidemic on social media. The plastic parade of MTV pop culture. People are are drowning in the media and marketing fatigue that spawns from the above.

Don’t know what I mean? Mention the words ‘marketing and branding’ to someone in your next conversation and see what happens. Eyes lose focus. Body goes limp. Mind takes flight to Neverland. Was that a snore I heard.

So how do we slice through the doubt and suspicion to convince potential customers that we can be trusted to be a valuable partner to their business?

Ethos, Pathos and Logos.

So what is Ethos, Pathos and Logos?

Ethos, Pathos and Logos are Aristotle’s modes of persuasion required to assuage (in this case) our customers doubts, show empathy for their emotions and respect for their intelligence when they are choosing whether they want to do business with us or not.

Of the modes of persuasion furnished by the spoken word there are three kinds. The first kind depends on the personal character of the speaker [ethos]; the second on putting the audience into a certain frame of mind [pathos]; the third on the proof, or apparent proof, provided by the words of the speech itself [logos]. Persuasion is achieved by the speaker’s personal character when the speech is so spoken as to make us think him credible.
   –Aristotle 1356a 2,3


Ethos is our ability to emanate trust. Trust comes from enabling people to see our reliability and credibility. Our ability to be trusted is one of the most powerful branding devices we have. We do that through the language we use, our manner, our tone of voice, the way we dress, our punctuality, our consistency, our accountability, our ability to keep our word (or admit when we’ve not been able to), and importantly, the way we communicate the things that we believe in.

What is our story? What part of our story aligns the best with our ideal customer? How do we tell that story in a way that is compelling and shows us as honest and able to be trusted with a part of someone else’s business? What is our vision and mission? What are our values?

It takes consistency over an extended period of time to build trust. Depending on the spend required of the customer and the commitment they require to do business with you, the longer you need. The more contact you need.

So how do we get customers to trust us, know us and understand our story? Here are a few ways:

  • Send helpful, engaging and varied emails to your database
  • Write a blog (this can be combined with the above point)
  • Post on social media
  • Attend events
  • Seek public speaking engagements
  • Network and get to know people
  • Ask your best customers to provide you with a testimonial
  • Be yourself


Pathos is our ability to appeal to emotions associated with problems and show that we have the ability to bring them to a positive conclusion. This can be tricky. There is a fine line between people seeing us as empathetic and understanding to their problems and giving them the impression that we are trying to manipulate their emotions for our own gain.

A problem is an open story gap. All story gaps need closing. All people need help and guidance to do that.

Here are ways that we can get people to trust we have their best interests at heart and involve us in solving their problems.

  • Research – check out social media, customer websites, search through complaints and positive reviews on google in your industry to get an understanding for common objections and solutions
  • Check in – Make time to call or go and see someone in person for a coffee, without an agenda. People prefer the personal contact in the ever increasing world of digital media
  • Talk less, listen more – Ask questions and listen to find out what our customer’s goals and dreams are and the things that are getting in the way. There are a variety of ways that we can do this:
    • Send surveys
    • Ask questions on social media (a great way to generate discussion and engagement)
    • Have a feedback form on your website
    • Have a suggestions box in your lobby
    • Follow up
    • Stand on a street corner
    • Be creative and find your own unique way


Logos is the ability to respect the intelligence of our customers and their ability to make logical, reasoned decisions. We do this through a body of reliable proof (evidence), effective pathos to manage objections and the use of premise to form logical conclusions.

For example only. If you are selling sliding gates for the fronts of people’s properties.

A peer reviewed article shows homes are 60% more unlikely to be robbed if they have a gate. The customer lives in a suburb that had 30% more robberies than the median break-ins for city suburbs in the last year. Robbery can threaten the security of a family (and in extreme cases can result in the loss of a loved one), cause monetary shortfalls through insurance, create emotional hardship through loss of irreplaceable property and so on. The logical conclusion is the impact of getting robbed far outweighs the the impact of the monetary investment. Keep in mind the customer who made the enquiry is already in the market for the gate. 

Here are ways that we can use logos to appeal to a customer’s intelligence and help them reach a logical and reasoned conclusion:

  • Cite facts and statistics, from reliable peer reviewed sources
  • Show case studies of completed projects that show results clearly
  • Define historical precedence for best practices that are proven over time
  • Provide personal and historical testimony
  • Formulate good counter arguments for objections (using a good dose of ethos and pathos)
  • Ask effective questions that lead the conversation and allow the customer to form their own logical conclusion
  • Provide warranties and guarantees

In conclusion.

Ethos, Pathos and Logos work together. Without a good combination of all three of these methods of persuasion, you will fall short in persuading a customer to do business with you. Each method compliments the other. Without trust (ethos), appealing to a persons emotions will seem dishonest and predatory. Without understanding of emotions associated with a customer’s problems (pathos) the customer wont want to hear your intelligent argument. Without an intelligent argument (logic) you may look like you are trying to take the customer for a fool and can’t be trusted. And so the circle will start again.

While you are going around in circles, the customer will be moving on with their own story.

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