Monday, May 2, 2011

Building Emotional Equity for Brands

The issue of building  an “emotional connect” with the consumer arose when technological advances made it easy for people to replicate the technology in real quick time. Development of communication infrastructure also ensured that technological innovations diffused down to other geographies and segments quickly and with less lead time. Situations of product parity arose and the idea of an Unique Selling Proposition became history. The era of Unique Selling Presentations and Unique Selling Personalities came into vogue. Appealing to the emotions was the tactic adopted. Companies like Foote Cone and Belding came  out with strategic tools like the FCB Grid, which classified products into emotional and rational categories with associated purchase behavior being linked to whether it was the head or the heart that ruled!

In the recent past, the Hofstede’s framework was used by some agencies to understand the core essence of brands and the value they espoused and personified.

The latest probably is Kapferer, who came out with a prism which detailed the various facets of a brand including its physique and personality and the relationship it had with its consumers.
To get down to basics, there is a simple technique to arrive at the possible emotional areas and the kind of personality that a brand could possibly look at.  I came across this when undertaking a repositioning of a luggage brand in India. This was referred to as the Attribute Consequence Value chain. Qualitative in nature it probed consumers as to what  attribute they looked for in a product ( luugage in this case) and then what benefit it gave them. The second answer was the “consequence”. Sometimes there were more than one consequence. The next probe was on what this benefit meant to them in their everyday life and to the people they were. It was finally linked to a value that they held dearly. So a rugged luggage product had the consequences of durability and the ability to protect. Durability meant savings in financial terms , which then meant that the decision was sensible and there was emotional pay off in being seen to oneself as sensible. For others, the money saved meant being a good provider since it could be used for other purposes and giving the family something they liked and wanted. Being sensible and being good providers were linked to the individuals value systems, in the first instance using one’s brains and doing the right thing was a key value, for the second person, being a good provider/ father/ mother was  a value and his/her dharma.
In fact Volvo’s benefit of being a “safe” car was leveraged in one memorable advertisement as being a loving father, because he invested in his own safety!

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