January 10, 2018
We play lip service to this statement as if the realisation that people are more than what we see and hear, is so obvious that for many of us it is a given. The frustration I have working with 1000’s of talented Brand builders every year, is that we are still stuck in the past where we identify with people through their demographics. The reality is, we need to go beyond the skin of consumers, we need to distance ourselves from these meaningless descriptions fed to us as specific targeting tools for our communication. In fact, we should be going to the psychologists, rather than the media experts to ensure that we target and focus on those individuals that share common feelings, common attitudes and common beliefs. Simon Sinek in a recent TED talk spoke about how great leaders and great Brands will lead and communicate through shared values much more effectively then through power or force or promotion.
Individuals feel safer when they surround themselves with others that share their values and this must be the same with Brands. The time for living and distinguishing yourself through features and benefits is long gone. In the majority of categories we will find that most products will deliver the same functional benefits. The speed of innovation, the ability to copy, the sharing of information instantly has meant that any advantage gained through functionality is equalled within weeks, so we must appeal to the softer side of our audience. The days of a generic cola are gone and every Brand, if it has the ambition to be a brand, must appeal to values rather than functions.
We relate to those softer messages far more powerfully then we do to the rational or functional message. An emotional connection is something, when formed, that is more sustainable, more enduring and more protectable, that will endure for decades. Why is it that brands like NIVEA, Coca Cola and Apple have an almost illogical following irrespective of the technical advantages or disadvantages? They are not wildly better products, they don’t have more functions, they don’t promise better benefits and yet we choose them every time because they feel right.
So in fact, it’s not about getting under the skin of the consumer, in fact we should be entering the brains of individuals and connecting to their deepest, most personal emotions and values, if we are to be one, very small, important part of their lives.