Brands are symbols.
Symbols for values, beliefs, personality, social and political stances, and innovation. They represent the humans who run them and the ones who buy from them.
But not all brands are the same. Some are running through the hills, exercising their influence and adding value to the world. Others have simply flatlined.
Brands have a pulse. They are living entities. They have the ability to connect to people, and the ability to close themselves off from the world.
The question is: which are you?
There's a common misconception that powerful brands have to be persuasive. In reality, the most powerful brands are evocative.
The most well-known brands throughout the world share this one common characteristic with each other. They feel and draw out feelings in others. They represent something more than the package on the shelf or the shopping cart on the site. They dive deeper. They have an essence and a core.
So, why? Why is having a brand that feels, lives and breathes important?
Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs will help us illustrate this idea.
Fulfilling Human Needs
In the pyramid below, you'll see multiple steps. Each of which builds on top of one another. Every section represents human needs and their level of importance.
At the bottom, you have our most basic needs to survive. And at the top you have self-actualization or the ability to truly go beyond the self and create value and peace for others.
Powerful and creative brands take these needs into consideration. What, how and why you sell should have the ability to address and cater to our human needs.
Think of it this way.
Johnson & Johnson helps people stay safe, feel secure, eat and drink. They have products that take care of our body, allowing us to thrive (bottom of the pyramid).
Apple products allow you to connect to others via their devices. They are a status and social symbol. They inspire creativity and achievement (top of the pyramid).
How does your brand help a fulfill a human need?
Your Brand's Heartbeat
Brands that have heartbeats get attention. They emit an irresistible quality that people want to share.
It makes people say, "Shut up & take my money!"
Traditional marketing, way back when, said that brand success is determined by price and getting your product in front of the consumer. Just let them see it and they will buy it.
Yet for the modern brand, A Field of Dreams fantasy just isn't how things are done.
It's rather about your message – how well you can connect to the humans you serve. Can you break down the 4th wall and touch them with a message that hits home? One so real that it creates a lasting and viral memory that they just have to share.
The brands of today can no longer function as nuisances. They have to be the brands that save the day, bring joy, inspire, and make our complex lives easier. They bring value.
Remember, people never just buy what you do, they buy why you do it. They aren't buying the brand. They're buying the human behind it.
Marcia is the former Director of Brand for Element Three and now works with our team as a Brand and Creative Consultant. Over her career, Marcia’s work has collected over 300 creative awards including One Show, Clio, The International TV & Film Festival and the Emmys. She’s judged award shows, taught college courses and authored The Creative Director Survival Guide. She’s worked with some of the biggest brands in the world, including General Motors, McDonald’s, 3M, IKEA, Mayo Clinic, Chrysler, Sony, and Harley Davidson.
Feed your marketing mind and keep your skills sharp by opting into our weekly newsletter, packed with lessons we’ve learned firsthand. You won’t regret it.