Through the years we’ve had an intimate and codependent relationship with what we consume and utilize as a brand. Brands, clearly provide important benefits to both consumers and firms. In this consumerist age just about everything under the sun can be creatively painted, packaged and promoted as a brand.
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The inception stage is when a firm packages a plain commodity and plants that seed initially in the minds of the consumers. The latter phase (as described by Kevin Lane Keller is his book, Strategic Brand Management) is the more fascinating one when consumers’ carry out that imagination (in their heads) and allow it to manifest into the perceived benefits a commodity can provide us. I quote, “A brand is a perceptual entity rooted in reality, but it is more than that- it reflects the perceptions and perhaps even the idiosyncrasies of consumers.” That’s the power of a brand, and we as consumers play an active role in the creation and consumption of it.
What interests me is, are we usually in control of the brand in the purchasing process, or do we tend to succumb to the brand and give in to their appeal(s)? It leads to the question of, is it a need-based purchase or a desire driven marketing package? It continues to be an interesting game to see how brands play on the psyche of a consumer.
Brands were originally created by firms to aid consumers in the decision-making process helping them choose between alternatives as a win-win marketing strategy. As consumers we like to be given a platter of choices versus being driven to pick one forcibly. It plays well into the psyche of consumers as it gives us the illusion that we are always in control and making that choice rationally. Theoretically that may sound plausible but in reality what happens is a totally different ballgame!
Branding today is so powerful that it plays into our psyche creating deep associations with what we may consider as need-based wants and trying to seemingly fill in that void. Point is, they let us believe that purchasing that brand can help make us feel more attractive, happier, more successful, more popular and we tend to give in to those fantasies, and at some point allow the brand to take over without even realizing it!
Lee’s jeans with tummy tuck technology that promises to instantly slim you, Reebok’s Easytone shoes designed as an innovative footwear solution marketed to make your butt look better. The Axe effect, a Unilever deodorant product line marketed humorously, featuring ordinary men becoming instantly irresistible when they spray on the Axe. Coca-Cola’s new advertising campaign focusing on the feel-good factor. The “Happiness Machine” video on YouTube features a Coca-Cola vending machine transformed to deliver surprising “doses” of happiness to unsuspecting college students. Voss, a Norwegian premium bottled water company has become coveted for its taste, purity and sleek packaging. The brand today, has set a new standard of luxury and style within the bottled water market.
These are examples of some of the everyday commodities we consume that’s cleverly packaged and branded to sell us much more. So point is, are we just buying the brand for its utilitarian benefits, or are we really buying into the persona and perception that brand has been able to create in the process? What’s your take on it? What do you feel?
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