In today’s information age, the power of branding has never been more critical to the success or failure of a business. We can look no further than big brands for examples of how branding can influence the perception, desirability, and expansion of a brand. This psychological engagement is crucial to getting consumers to decide which product or service to select amongst the countless options that are regularly in front of them.
Brands Create Emotions
McDonald’s does not even try to be subtle with their overt brand messaging. Parents buy their kids “Happy Meals” often as soon as the children can walk or talk. The child craves the toy in the “Happy Meal,” with the hamburger being just a bonus.
The McDonald’s brand focuses on stirring up positive emotions for their customers. They have cleverly implemented the tagline “I love it.” Subconsciously, every time you eat at McDonald’s, you are reminded that you love their brand and food.
Brands Represent A Lifestyle
Specific brands like Rolex watches or Aston Martin cars represent the luxurious lifestyle. Not many people can afford to buy an Aston Martin. The brand is a status symbol of your wealth and ability to afford the exceptional things in life. A man with a Rolex watch or a woman with a Louis Vuitton handbag has made it in life…or at least their respective brands would like to make you feel that way.
When customers wear these status items, they are associating themselves with the brand. They are saying they are rich, influential people, who should be recognized. Luxury brands like Rolex and Aston Martin get their customers noticed.
Branding Is Cultural
While both Coke and Pepsi do a terrific job of branding their soft drink products, only Coke has permeated our culture as the more respected brand. Some restaurants have to ask their customer “Is Pepsi ok?” For Coke fans, Pepsi is never ok.
Coke has established themselves culturally as the most popular beverage of choice. Their branding reflects that. Coke is always reminding their customers how long their brand has been around. They do a fantastic job of getting people to remember how good it feels to drink a cold Coke on a hot summer day.
Just like McDonald’s and Starbucks, Coke can give their customers the consistent feeling of euphoria when they drink a coke. People get a feeling of refreshment, happiness, and energy from the sugar that is in Coke. Coke can capitalize on that emotion, and to get their customers to crave that feeling as much as possible.
Another example of a brand permeating culture is Netflix. Netflix probably never invented the phrase Netflix and Chill, but it benefits from it. Netflix suggests that their viewers are getting more sex through the experience that they create. Netflix indeed loves their brand’s association with entertainment and intimacy.
Lessons From Amazon
When you think of the Amazon brand, what do you think of? In many ways, Amazon is built around the customer getting instant gratification. You can order a product from Amazon, and get that product the next day if you choose to. Amazon has separated themselves from the rest of the pack by enabling their customers to order a variety of products and get them as fast as possible.
Another genius way that Amazon brands themselves are through the use of their Amazon wish lists. Amazon knows that Amazon is such a popular brand and that people buying gifts will likely buy them from Amazon. Letting people create Amazon wish lists ensures that the people with lists will likely get Amazon products when people buy them presents. Amazon makes it easy for their customers to create wish lists, and easy for those buying presents to buy the presents from the wish list.
Branding In The Entertainment Industry
Marvel Comics is one of the best at branding. They think years ahead about who will be the next famous comic book character to get their popular solo franchise. For example, by using the hero, Black Panther in “Captain America: Civil War,” more people are excited to see the standalone Black Panther movie. Many people would not have recognized who Black Panther was if he wasn’t in “Captain America: Civil War.”
By putting Black Panther in the earlier film, Marvel showcased his fighting style and his personality. Black Panther maybe had ten minutes of screen time in the movie, and that ten minutes has caused tons of excitement for the character getting his movie.
Marvel is an excellent brand because they make sure that all their heroes are connected. If you miss one movie in the Marvel franchise, you are at risk of missing very important plot lines. Marvel does this on purpose. A Marvel fan really can’t watch “Thor Ragnorok” without seeing the first couple Thor movies, and the Avengers movies where Thor is the principal character.
If a Marvel fan misses one of the other movies, they will lose important plot lines, be spoiled, or have no idea what is going on. Marvel knows this and knows their fans will likely pay to watch the previous films. That is amazing branding.
As you can see, the major brands are masters at creating powerful emotions in people. McDonald’s with the happy meal, Starbucks with the warmth of coffee, and luxury brands with their status symbols of power. When a brand can create emotions in people, they can keep and grow their customer base.