Branding to win
By Tom Dougherty
Brand is a human invention and has arisen as a direct result of a human need. As brand anthropologist, we have studied changing human behavior for decades and are completely confident that human conventions and inventions arise because they serve a belief or precept. What a human being believes to be true creates the initiation of a particular need. This need or want fires the fans of invention to satiate that need which ultimately brings a sense of equilibrium to the person by fulfilling or reinforcing that belief. This is the foundation of branding to win.
As a human invention, it stands to reason that the invention of “brand” as a process found its root in a belief and sought to satisfy a need. Without this relationship between the value of a brand and the precept that incited its invention, brand would have disappeared from the human condition like so many evolutionary dead ends.
It exists because we need it.
The science of branding to win is therefore a study of man. To practice the science correctly, you must understand the causes of its need and the rules it must follow. And believe me, there are rules.
There is no product that by itself is imperative to own, purchase or use. This is not true for brands. Products temporarily satisfy a need or want. As such, when the process that the product is designed to solve is completed, the need for the product is reduced. A brand, on the other hand, when created anthropologically, represents a fundamental need for self-fulfillment and as such never loses its importance.
Long after the process for which the product serves has been fulfilled, there is still a brand value that supersedes all reason. The iPhone is a perfect example. For those that ran out and bought the iPhone 6, its importance in your life as an extension of your desire to be personally fulfilled remains important well after the call has been answered, the email sent or the “app” closed. “There is an app for that” is not the brand promise, but just a further proof point of the brand’s importance.
No product failure or inconvenience will overcome that personal investment in the brand (and the brand’s personal investment in “me’”). Those that bought the iPhone 6 or stood in line to buy an iPad mini did not do so because of a direct product benefit. The product was a byproduct of the brand.
Branding to win is more than share of voice
All too often, marketers confuse the brand message with the product message. The rational product benefit gives us a chance to place a rational hook into our minds so that we know where it belongs. The emotional bond necessary to create preference is how we feel about the purchase. More precisely, how we feel about ourselves when we make the purchase or use the brand.
Confusing these two is a fatal mistake and relegates a product to a battle over share of voice (SOV) in combination with the battle of unique benefits (provided the message can be heard and distinguished above the din of commercial messages). It is the opposite of branding to win.
Why do so many companies make this mistake? Is it just simply ego that directs most companies to talk it in terms of themselves? Is ego the main reason that most brand promises are about the product, manufacturer or owner instead of about the customer? Maybe.
But the answer might be because it is easy to do. You don’t have to invest in anthropological research or practice pure objectivity to speak glowingly about yourself. It is readily available and easily communicated. It may even be interesting, but is not very persuasive.
If you want to make your target audience covet your brand you must look deeply into the motivations that drive their life choices and not just the usage of their product choices.
This brings us back to the origin of needs.
Needs arise as a means to satisfy and satiate a belief. The beliefs that we hold create the needs we must satisfy. Most marketing never bother to look into the beliefs and instead satisfy by addressing the needs only.
Jif peanut butter is a perfect example of a belief-driven purchase. For years, Jif said, “Jif tastes more like fresh peanuts.” You might remember the commercials that magically transformed whole peanuts into peanut better while the commercial spread the nut butter on the white bread.
Did that cause preference? No. Not until we were promised that “Choosey Mothers Choose Jif.” Suddenly, the fresh peanut taste (a need) satisfied a belief that the shopper (in this case, a mother) needed to think of herself as a choosy mother. The product benefit (fresh peanut taste) supported the main brand promise of being a caring and better mom.
At Stealing Share, our goal is always to uncover the highest emotional intensity (belief) in the category and then support that promise with reality. It is a game changer. The process to find the right answer is not easy or simple, but it is worth the candle. For those who wanting to think beyond just product benefit, call us and, in an hour of your time, we will change everything.