There’s a lot of talk in the marketing world about “emotion”; “truth”; and “trust”. But can brands really spark fire in the breasts of their consumers – or do people just like owning some things more than others?
It seems unlikely, for example, that someone would die for a smartphone – whereas one can readily imagine the same hypothetical consumer throwing himself or herself in front of a train to save a child. So we have to ask whether the words we are using are the right ones. In a spirit of honesty motivated by the increased transparency of the modern branding world, it’s time to redefine our terms and find out what we really mean to the people who buy into our propositions.
There are gradations of feeling. A person can still get passionate about something he or she is not hopelessly in love with. It is this feeling that motivates brand preferences – and it is this feeling that can be channelled to create brand advocates.
Why? Because the kind of feeling we are talking about here is something more complex than love. Love is unthinking and almost without choice. As the old adage tells us, you don’t get to choose your family and you don’t choose who you fall in love with. What you do pick, are your friends.
The two sayings alluded to above have a common thread: choice. Both identify how some relationships and feelings in our life, normally the most powerful and overriding ones, are instilled in us without any request on our part that they happen. We have no choice, we have no control.
The brand message is aimed at the other part of the emotions – the bit that lets us choose what we like and what we don’t. To understand it best it is first necessary to recall a time when we were younger.
Teenagers are living examples of self-branding. It is, then, little wonder that the most obvious and powerful branding is aimed at teenagers and young adults – who are striving to identify themselves with a range of likes and dislikes that – if we are completely honest – are often quite arbitrarily chosen. Indeed one of the prime criteria for teenage obsessions is often simple reaction against everyone else’s likes – if the parent’s generation really liked x then it is practically guaranteed that their children will, instead, like y.
Why? Because everyone wants to be their own person. They want evidence that they are capable of choosing for themselves, despite the truths inherent in the two sayings we looked at earlier. So they build a personality by finding things to like and things to dislike.
This is where branding steps in. Because really effective branding isn’t going for blind love at all. For someone to click that like button on a Facebook page, we’re not looking for blind adoration but conscious choice. So the brand isn’t trying to live in the heart like a lover or a brother. Instead, it wants to live in the mind.
Marketer and engineer specialising in IT, tech and engineering companies. I bring new ideas, innovation, passion and clear strategy development with defined ROI, underpinned by 30 + years of experience.
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