More Than a Brand

Mar 31, 2011  |  By Sarah Michelle Matley  |  

Branding is everything. It’s who you are, what you represent, what you purchase or participate in. It’s a definition. What attracts us to a particular brand? Why are we compelled to purchase one product over another? Why do we participate in one event over another? Where does brand affinity come from?

You create a need, offer a solution and present your case, but at the end of the day there is only so much room to differentiate your product or cause from countless others. So how do some brands manage to thrive in a dwindling economy? They become a lifestyle.

Three ways a brand can achieve this standing are philanthropy, emotional appeal, and status.

1. Philanthropy- Tom’s Shoes.

How does Tom’s Shoes manage to stay afloat with a steady flow of competition? They reach outside of themselves. When Tom’s Shoes markets to their demographic they are not simply requesting the consumer to make a purchase, they are compelling them to join a movement. While the shoe itself doesn’t differ greatly from the competition, the company has set itself apart by tapping into cause marketing. For example, during last year’s annual “Day Without Shoes” event, more than 250,000 people went barefoot in support of the cause and Tom’s Shoes Company. People are willing to spend $60 on a pair of shoes to be part of a cause. Tom’s Shoes has established a connection and the consumer wants to be a part of something bigger. Their footwear is no longer simply a product, it is a lifestyle.

2. Emotional Appeal- Disney.

The Walt Disney Company has phenomenal brand affinity. Their secret? Tapping into the vastly shared desire to wish upon a star and dream of a happily ever after. The very essence of Disney pulls you back to your childhood where cares and worries just simply do not matter as much.

“Why do we have to grow up? I know more adults who have the children’s approach to life. They’re people who don’t give a hang what the Joneses do. You see them at Disneyland every time you go there. They are not afraid to be delighted with simple pleasures, and they have a degree of contentment with what life has brought – sometimes it isn’t much, either.” Walt Disney

The Magic Kingdom, The Happiest Place on Earth, Disney Classics; it’s near impossible to not be overcome with feelings of joy and youth whenever a pair of mouse ears enters the scene. People don’t view Disney as a corporation, or even as a brand. Disney has a relationship with the consumer. Disney has a face.Several in fact. Loveable faces and the inspirational message behind the Walt Disney Company that compels people to want active involvement in the world of Disney magic. They have mastered the art of brand affinity.

3. Status- Apple.

Apple Store NYC

The only thing more difficult than keeping up with the Kardashians’ is keeping up with Apple. The products we buy and the brands we support are somewhat of a label to help others understand us. It’s like wearing one of those “Hi, My name is ___” nametags. Brands like Coach, Gucci, Prada, BMW rely on status. You’re not just paying for a product; you’re paying for the name. Compare the latest Motorola ad with the latest Apple ad. It seems to me that Motorola is geared more towards the functional or traditional tech-consumer. It shows its function but in a much more video-game fashion. Apple is  all about the ease of function, the possibilities for connecting with friends, entertainment and information, and beautiful sleekness. Even the Apple store is designed to be extremely sleek and tech-chic.From the moment you turn on the television or walk through the store door, Apple captivates us in the name of style.

So what wins us over to a particular brand over another? Whether they won me over through philanthropy, emotion, or status, I want something that speaks directly to what’s important to me and represents who I am. Something “me.” I’m not looking for a brand; I’m making a statement.

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