Creating Brands That Provide Psychological And Social Benefits Beyond The Product

The main reason for the general fascination with brands is​ their ability to​ provide the consumers an​ extra value in​ addition to​ what the product\service\company themselves can provide. a​ value which becomes the major motivation for consumers to​ desire the product. Everybody agrees about that, but from here on it​ becomes foggy. First of​ all, what is​ this value exactly? Also, how precisely is​ this value being added and incorporated into the brand? in​ this short article I attempt to​ provide a​ clear answer to​ both of​ these key questions and to​ suggest a​ workable approach to​ creating value added brands.

By way of​ introduction, let me say that strong brands are perceived instruments, means to​ achieve goals or​ benefits, in​ the consumer's mind. They arouse emotions because they are perceived as​ a​ source of​ something beneficial. The positive emotions are direct outcomes of​ these anticipations. Their various symbolizations (name, logo, font, emblem, etc') have little impact of​ their own. Their importance is​ mainly as​ identifiers of​ sources of​ already attributed and anticipated benefits.

The act of​ branding has ten different meanings which are ten different ways to​ create instrumentality or​ usefulness beyond the tangible benefits which the product/ service/ company themselves can provide.

Creating a​ conceived linkage to​ a​ tangible benefit

The most basic level of​ branding is​ creating a​ conceived linkage between the brand name and other identifiers and a​ tangible benefit. Huge brands like Pantene shampoo which promise to​ amend the six symptoms of​ unhealthy hair look, work in​ this level.

Forming a​ mental context

A "mental context" is​ a​ concept or​ an​ organizing principle which allows the consumer to​ conceive originally unrelated facts (such as: the various marketing activities of​ a​ company) as​ connected by a​ guiding intent or​ by some other common factor. For example: should you stumbled into a​ hotel like the "Hudson" or​ the "Royalton" in​ the heart of​ Manhattan, you are promised pleasure on different levels, but if​ you know you're in​ a​ "Boutique Hotel" your stay becomes a​ very different experience altogether.

Directing an​ experience

This is​ essentially a​ hypnotic effect, in​ some cases related to​ Placebo. The branding here is​ the creation of​ an​ expectation which alters the sensed experience and enables the consumer a​ richer experience than what the product alone can provide him with. For instance, the expectation that an​ energy drink like "Red Bull" will energize, makes the consumers feel a​ wave of​ energy beyond the physical effect of​ the drink.

Creating a​ means of​ self presentation

Here the branding creates a​ symbol with a​ meaning that is​ well known to​ everybody in​ a​ relevant group, which enables the consumer to​ characterize himself. The brand "ABSOLUT vodka" became a​ way for yuppies to​ signal their yuppieness to​ other yuppies and so became a​ huge success.

Creating a​ means to​ deliver a​ message

The branding role in​ this approach is​ to​ create a​ symbol of​ another kind, its meaning known for everybody as​ well. The diamonds giant "De Beers" made the diamond a​ means of​ expressing commitment, making the physical fact that a​ diamond is​ indestructible a​ metaphor for the lastingness of​ a​ relationship.

Building a​ social-cultural authority

The next branding approach is​ the creation of​ an​ authority which the consumers can use as​ a​ guide, to​ help them understand what's happening around them and to​ inform them which behavioral ways are normative, what will make them happier etc'. The brand "Apple" depicted the personal computer, not only as​ a​ working tool but also as​ a​ device for self expression and creativity.

Creating "a long hand"

In this approach, the branding is​ creating means for the consumer and empowering her to​ act for noble objectives and high purposes, which are important to​ her, but which she can't achieve by herself. The "Body Shop" network made buying a​ way for contributing to​ the preservation of​ the environment and helping people in​ need all around the globe.

Creating an​ Alter Ego

Here, the brand is​ a​ way for the consumer to​ behave (at least on a​ fantasy level) in​ a​ manner he would like to​ but doesn't dare, or​ isn't willing to​ pay the price for. The provocation of​ the fashion brand "Diesel" is​ made as​ if​ "in the name of" the brand customers. They can feel like they are provocative themselves every time the brand advertises one of​ its outrageous campaigns.

Building an​ "Emotional Gym"

Opting for our civilized and protected life style, we compromise (not once, happily) a​ lot of​ our possibilities as​ humans. We go to​ the gym to​ prevent the degeneration of​ our body which, in​ our life style, doesn't get to​ face the challenges it​ was designed for. Similarly, we watch movies and TV series' in​ order to​ "exercise" emotional skills which aren't legitimate in​ our life style. Brands like "Sicily" from "Dolce & Gabbana", allows us too to​ experience such emotional possibilities.

Facilitating fantasies

With only a​ fine difference from the previous approach, this branding approach helps the consumer to​ fantasize an​ alternative reality. The brand "Timberland" was designed as​ a​ way for consumers to​ fantasize about courageous adventures against the forces of​ nature.

The understanding of​ the different kinds of​ added value, the ways by which these values are instrumental to​ the consumer and the methods by which brands can be destined to​ be means for the consumer for achieving his goals, makes the difference between masterful creations of​ brands and amateur imitation which produces mere look-alikes.

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