27th May, 2014
Think of a brand you like. Now think of one you love. Or try for one that you dislike, and then one that you hate. To be honest, I struggle to identify with the love or hate aspect of this exercise – to me brand is just that: the identifying quality of a product. I don’t love the brand, I love a product. Or hate it (and before you ask, I do not like Marmite – though their advertising and brand development is excellent). Our relationships with the brands we encounter have been morphed to suit our 21st Century lifestyles. They move with us. They Tweet. They interact with John and Susan who live at #42. They facilitate identity at an intrinsic level that we are all too happy to collude with and more than ever we are partaking in emotional recognition with personally representative brands.
How have we arrived on this emotionally fraught branding pathway? Well, it seems that we have two things to blame:
It has been levied at the largest of brands that they simply do not engage with their audiences. Social media and the captive audiences waiting have put paid to that presupposition. If we do emotionally connect with brands, then we relate closely. We subscribe to their trials and tribulations and in our own times of need, turn directly to them, activating the reward sequence once again. The combination of social media interaction and brand relationships has had another effect though.
Brands can greatly enhance the perceived value of their product by interacting regularly with the client base, further cementing the brand advantage. We are sensitive to the collective effects of social media commenting where it can seem certain brands are continually having praise heaped upon them, or quite the opposite. This collective stream of consciousness – as it is an active participation in the display of sheep-like qualities – can form the difference between successfully implementing a branding exercise or being sent packing. Social media distortions rapidly apply pressure to the emotional creatures we are, allowing for even negative social media feedback to activate our reward cycles as we perceive that somewhere, value is being added to our brand.
Unifying our relationship with a brand has become more than continual exposure to a product. The scope for a brand to transition from an entity into a value adding, goal assisting individual has accelerated considerably, where we now associate specific brands with enabling our own achievement paths – once again reinforcing our reward pathway. The most effective marketing strategies combine all of these, as well as instilling their identity within us enticing us into the belief of reward that can frame our lives, our personal identities – our very way of living.