Friday, November 27, 2015

Brands and Humans

Brands personify organizations and their products and services. Why is this important? Because only people (or personified brands) can connect emotionally with people.

To do this, brands must stand for something, have a shared set of values with their customers, be aware of their own motivations and possess carefully crafted, nuanced personalities.

Social science has shown that people primarily make decisions based on feelings and emotions. This is why the brand overlay to products and services is so important. Brands make emotional appeals and they connect emotionally with people.

So what do people want? They want to laugh and be entertained. Consider Southwest Airlines. They want to feel safe and secure. Consider Subaru. They want to feel understood and even loved. Consider Hallmark. They want to be pampered. Consider Starbucks. They want to be treated with respect. Consider Ritz-Carlton. They want to be stylish. Consider Armani. They want to display their status. Consider Mercedes-Benz. They want to do something good for the environment. Consider Patagonia. They want to love their dogs. Consider Pedigree.

What else do people want from brands? They want to be able to trust brands. They want brands to be predictable and reliable. They want to be able to count on them.

They want brands to be innovative, aesthetically appealing and easy to use. Consider Apple.

They look for adorable personalities. Consider GEICO’s gecko. And Progressive insurance uses its fictional character Flo.

And people admire brands that are based on the personalities of their leaders. People hold Tesla’s Elon Musk in high regard. Steve Jobs was a bigger than life personality behind the Apple brand, as was Bill Gates behind the Microsoft brand. Richard Branson embodies the Virgin brand.  Consider Ben & Jerry’s Ben and Jerry. And Wendy’s Dave Thomas and KFC’s Colonel Sanders.

Going back further in time, consider Kellogg’s Frosted Flake’s Tony the Tiger or Rice Krispies’ Snap, Crackle and Pop.

I hope by now you are getting the picture that a brand must possess human qualities and interact with people with great humanity.

If you are treating your brand only as a name, logo or identity, your brand is falling far short of its potential. Your brand has to act like a human interacting with humans in ways that motivate them.

Perhaps you should think of your brand going out on a first date with one of its customers. How would you want it to behave? What should it do to be attractive to that customer? What would sweep that customer off of his or her feet? What would lead to love at first sight? What would lead to a second date?

Then think of your brand as a spouse in a long time married couple. What keeps the spark going? What keeps the relationship alive? What helps it grow deeper over the years?

These are the things you should be thinking about for your brand.

I wish you great success in making your brand appeal to humans. After all, to whom else are they supposed to appeal?

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