Your Brand: Is it Making Meaning?
Most brands don’t compel people. Today we’re going to look at shift in the consumer mindset that demands that brands who want to go somewhere must compel them.
Robin Wight said in his insight at Like Minds that brands exist to make the purchasing process easier. This was an eye opener for me because I realised how it is indeed the case that a brand reduces my need for original critical thought and makes me rely on what Robert Cialdini calls fixed action patterns – fixed ways of reacting based on certain mental shortcuts.
Certainly for the majority of brands that you’ll see at a supermarket, that’s their role. But what most of the Friends reading this will be in the business of doing is moving beyond brands that merely make it easier for us to purchase or align with. We are interested in making maning, in aspiration, in purpose, in challenge. Our ideal brand is one that people derive identity from.
The brand on three levels
- Functional brands seek to differentiate one product from another by targeting a particular demographic. This is what Umair describes as the base level of branding.
- Aspiration brands emerged as status symbols: I don’t buy a Samsung MP3 player, I buy an iPod. This is where Umair says we’ve been for the last 3 decades.
- Meaningful brands are, paraphrasing Umair, where a brand has a tangible output on the consumer’s life in terms that matter for them. He says furthermore than meaningful brands are the opposite of egocentric demand, which he calls alocentric. The general thrust is that a meaningful brand contributes to the human race, not just me as an individual.
(Side note for another discussion another day: I would understand Umair’s description of meaningful brands to be highly linked to community and we could also label them as social brands.)
Overcoming indifference with purpose
The power of the meaningful brand is that is overcomes indifference. With functional and aspiration brands saturating markets left, right and centre, a meaningful brand taps into something deeper than a brand meeting my immediate functional need.
In actual fact, I see meaningful brands as tapping into Maslow‘s top hierarchy of self-actualisation – or as I say – purpose.
Recently I was talking to someone who unites a community of people around an event. They wanted to know where to take the event, and my response was that they needed to go beyond entertainment (uniting people around a good time) and instead unite people around purpose. In other words, make meaning by helping the community make meaning.
How can you be indifferent to something that has helped further you on your quest for purpose and meaning?
Making your brand meaningful
We’ve covered enough ground for today, so tomorrow we’ll discuss just exactly how we make a brand meaningful. And what we need to discuss that is your feedback on this post now. The conversation has begun – now add your thoughts:
- How do you move a brand from aspirational to meaningful?
- What the meaningful brands in your life?