Tom Dougherty, CEO – Stealing Share
5 November 2019
MicroFreak, a case study in what really creates preference
Sometimes, you can find marketers who understand how to build brand preference in the most surprising places. It’s not just Apple and Nike doing God’s work. It can also be someone as unlikely as a brand of synthesizers, such as Arturia’s MicroFreak.
My eldest son, an avid musician (among other things), brought it to me to demonstrate its product features. For example, it rips apart the traditional keyboard design. Instead, it features a flat surface with ridges indicating keys. The inlay on each key is akin to the numerical interplay at the close of The Matrix. It’s a stellar piece of design.
MicroFreak holds all the usual suspects in a synth, oscillators and filters and wave-forms galore. What’s more, there is a dedicated digital screen presenting the sculpted wave parameters.
But as smart marketers know, product benefits do not create brand preference. That’s created by having an emotional brand meaning that gives importance to those product features. If all you promote are product benefits, then you are only helping the category. You’re not creating preference. That’s an important distinction. And most marketers fail to see the difference.
For MicroFreak, its description caught my eye: “MicroFreak is a peculiar, exceptional instrument that rewards the curious musician.”
“I’m sure MicroFreak represents a ‘wow’ for musicians. But the real reason it’s resonating is because it’s defined as being for the curious musician, unlike all those other synthesizers who talk only about product benefits.”
The product benefits of MicroFreak don’t matter. Defining who it is for does.
Let’s break it down. Its use of the word “peculiar” catches you because normally you would think it was a bad word in marketing. For many, that would seem to be a negative word. Who wants to be know as “peculiar”?
Yet, that word helps position MicroFreak against all other synthesizers. It’s for the curious musician, willing to take chances with something a little peculiar.
That’s a brand position.
Sure, you can rattle off all the benefits of other Arturia products, such as KeyStep and BeatStep. You can shout to the masses about owning powerful musician tools for those who don’t have thousands of dollars to spend.
Those are important values. But never confuse those with the reasons why people choose. We choose for emotional reasons, then rationalize those decisions with rational factors. Like product benefits.
I’m sure MicroFreak represents a “wow” for musicians. But the real reason it’s resonating is because it’s defined as being for the curious musician, unlike all those other synthesizers who talk only about product benefits. And not who the musicians are when they use those instruments.
Apple says, “Think Different.” MicroFreak says its musicians are different than the rest too.
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