LOVE. ATTRACTION. BRANDING.
Updated: Mar 2, 2019
We all want to be attractive. We all want to be loved.
These two desires however, while not being mutually exclusive, are certainly not the same. In your daily life and personal relationships and in your relationships that you develop with brands, the idea of being attractive is what brings you to the door. The thing that makes you stay is love.
Attraction is primarily a surface level idea. It is sensory and it appeals to us without any foreknowledge on our side. If we see someone who is attractive, we may think they look beautiful or sexy or edgy or comfortable and familiar. We don’t know the first thing about them, but when we see them at the bus stop or in the supermarket or at the gala reception, we are attracted. They have caught our eye and our attention.
Talking with a friend this morning, she was worried about her branding and her business. She is a yoga instructor in New Delhi and holds classes and seminars. She is well respected within her small community but is only one of many that offer her type of classes in her city.
The real problem lies therein: she has to compete with myriad others for the attention of potential students. She has to show her offer to be attractive and worthy of grabbing that attention. Not knowing how to do it, she considered the possibilities.
She could gouge her prices, trying to be the cheapest. She could offer some free service, or benefit, or product for people who sign up. My question to her is why does that make your business more attractive?
The price consideration is only a small part of the branding question. It is a rational argument. It is a justification. We may choose Brand X over Tide for our laundry detergent because Brand X is much cheaper. We rationalize the choice, even if we have never heard of X. Even if we already know and are happy with Tide.
Discounts and slashed prices are attractive in the sense that everyone likes to save money, but we still have not nailed down the question of what we are saving money on. Promoting savings works very well for a marketing campaign. If we see that Dove soap is cheaper this week than Nivea or Palmolive or Fa, then we are motivated to buy it. But we already know Dove and Nivea and Palmolive and Fa.
We know them because they have developed brands, and they mean something to us. We know Dove because of their advertising campaigns, their messages about body image, their values of wholesomeness and simplicity. We know them because we remember their logo and how their name is written – their logotype. For my friend, all this work is ahead of her.
Attractiveness is a universal desire. No matter who we are or what we do we want to be attractive. We want to stand out in a group that matters to us. It does not mean we want to be international fashion models or movies stars. It means we want people to see and appreciate us.
Attractiveness is, to be sure, a superficial consideration. This is because we do not attract from an intimate space but from a longer distance. Once we attain the intimate space, we can deepen the connection with qualities that are not necessarily visible from a billboard. This is where we can get into a brand’s personality, character, and value set. But before arriving there, we have to attract the attention of the consumer. He or she has to stop and say – Hey, what’s this?
Even older and more recognized brands need to be attractive. This is not only to attract attention but also to maintain the status of an attractive brand, worthy of loyalty. Nike operates this way – we are attracted to the excitement generally produced by their ads. We are further attracted by the fact that many people around us have adopted the brand already. And we are attracted by the fact that its popularity – real or perceived – confers membership in a select group.
We wear Reeboks. We use iPhones. We drink Tropicana orange juice. We drive Mazdas.
Affiliation in this group is important because of the status it implies. People on the outside look at us and ask themselves if they might not want to join too. That is the appeal of branding. We buy brands for others as much as we buy them for ourselves.
As to my friend and her yoga classes, the first questions to ask are the deeper ones. What are these classes really? What do they give us? Strength? Inner peace? A centered Chi? Happiness? We must dig deep into the reasons she had for starting this business. It is not just because she knows yoga, it is because she loves it, is passionate about it, and she truly wants to share it with others.
These qualities say more about her classes than the variety offered – be it Hatha, Vipassana, Bikram, or “Hot Yoga”. Those are just names, not emotions and not feelings. A brand becomes attractive when it appeals to us directly. It must speak our language and touch us where it is most sensitive. Coke sells us love, not soft drinks. AT&T sells us family, not phone services.
Uncovering and revealing the attractiveness of a brand is a voyage of self-discovery, and one that every brand that wants to be loved must take. Your brand is your identity. More than just who you are, it is who you aspire to be.
And knowing that is infinitely more attractive than a bargain basement sale.
Chris Farmer is director of notapipe brand consulting, a branding agency based in Belgrade, Serbia. He also teaches master’s level classes in luxury brand management in Paris and Shanghai.