I think the above brand values pyramid sets out the order of importance of various brand benefits in a very clear and accessible way. It makes sense the functional benefits come first and as highlighted in an article on solmarketing.com this structure reflects Maslow’s hierarchy of needs which state that humans must have their basic or functional human needs met first before they can move on to solving problems around their emotional needs. Therefore for a brand to be successful it must first meet the functional requirements of what it should do.
Moving to emotional benefits may be considering additional features that go beyond the ‘bog standard’ features such as heated seats in a car or a higher performance camera on a phone. These features can enhance a customer’s feelings and experience of using a product and will therefore provide emotional benefits.
Finally, self-expression allows clients or customers to identify with a brand and say something about themselves through their use of the brand. As highlighted above these are the most difficult brand benefits to achieve however they have the biggest impact on the longevity of a brand.
This is a really important concept and ties into the importance of human-centric storytelling in relation to product stories.
Kevin Roberts states in his book Love Marks that brands are “out of juice” in 6 ways:
- Brands are worn out from overuse
- Brands are no longer mysterious
- Brands can’t understand the new consumer
- Brands struggle with competition
- Brands have been captured by formula
- Brands have been smothered by creeping conservatism
If brands are becoming too common, rigid and formulaic as stated in the points above how can we combat this? Roberts suggests promoting action through emotion citing neurologist Donald Calne:
“The essential difference between emotion and reason is that emotion leads to action while reason leads to conclusions”
Therefore Roberts suggest lovemark to be the term to describe companies that have managed to create a:
“genuine emotional connections with the communities and networks they live in.”
Robert continues to play with the love theme relating a lovemark to creating a long term commitment rather than a short term fling. He goes on to state that love needs respect relating to the idea that a brand must be respected to be loved. I would add at this time that as stated in this weeks lecture and later in Robert’s book that love minus respect equals fads as demonstrated below which will suggest that the customers interest will fade fairly quickly.
The above love respect axis demonstrates the 4 areas brand can fall into within these two constructs. From my perspective, this can be fully related to my role as a designer. While I may not have control over the products and services I am working with and branding I do have control over the brand I am producing and what it communicates about the company. While I think realistically a good brand can’t save a bad company I do agree a good brand can help catapult a good company into the top half of the above diagram. I feel as a designer I can create a brand that is respected by following important brand rules on consistency and by generally ‘following the formula’ as not too favourably referred to above.
To generate love I need to go a step further. I need to create visual outcomes that capture the target audiences attention by generating an emotional connection tieing into the notion of adding to their identity e.g. if I’m working on branding for a high-end product I need my brand to exude luxury in every at each touchpoint drawing associations to luxury experiences so that the consumer feels that they are demonstrating their personal ‘superior’ taste when purchasing the product. A great brand for me is bought into by consumers when they feel that by associating themselves with this brand they are saying something important and distinctive about themselves generating a sense of belonging and ownership of the brand.
The B&P Exercise
Jones and Waddell medium.com post state that the brand is why people want to use your product, the experience is how people experience using your product and the product is the unique way the product solves a real user problem. The value proposition has to encapsulate all three of these areas. But what is most notable is that the product itself is at the bottom of the list as a value indicator for a customer while the brand is at the top. I believe this is because people now generally expect a product to do what it says it will and uses the brand as an indicator of the experience they will receive on purchasing the product e.g. a poorly executed brand with bad design choices might indicate that the product will provide a very functional and basic user experience.
It is interesting to note that the above value indicators appear to run contrary to brand values as presented in the brand value pyramid above which place functionality as a top priority followed by emotional and self-expressive benefits. I would argue that people infer that if a product has been created by a brand they know and trust or a brand that has invested time into creating a strong identity they can identify with that they can safely assume that the experience and product they will receive will be of similar quality. If this expectation is not met repeat purchases are unlikely, breaking trust and leading to the failure of the product. Therefore it makes sense that when building a brand to first follow the brand values pyramid structure however when selling a brand follow the value proposition structure.
How to manage this
As brand recognition and building a good reputation is a vital part of effective branding it is important to consider are:
- consistent quality
- tone of voice
- attention to detail- pay attention to everything (packaging etc.)
- emotion- tell a good story (human-centric- not transactional)
- experience- way’s people ‘feel’ your brand
- reward loyalty- gesture and token
I think it’s really important to consider all of the above and it’s interesting to note that one naturally follows the other. Once you have developed a consistent and high-quality product you can develop a tone of voice that reflects this. The points that follow reinforce the presentation of quality and even necessity by communicating it on every level through attention to detail throughout every aspect of the user experience- a concept apple have mastered.
Telling a good story is an area that I feel can be a little more tricky but for me tapping into human experience empathising with customer pain points and demonstrating a better experience should theoretically achieve the desired emotional response. The experience itself I feel can be very much influenced by attention to detail and good storytelling however by examining the user’s journey from viewing to purchasing to using a product and finding ways to improve this experience could also be a great way to target the area.
Finally, rewarding loyalty makes great sense as has been an approach utilised by many companies issuing loyalty cars, tokens and points to encourage customers to return.
What have I learnt?
- When creating a product you must first consider the functionality of the product the emotional benefits followed by self-expressive benefits.
- When promoting a product focus first on presenting the brand then the experience and finally the product.
- People draw conclusions from facts however they take action based on emotions
- Both respect and love for a brand must be captured to produce deep emotional connections with the target audience
- Maintaining a well-loved and respected brand requires the consistent management of a brand in relation to what they are communicating to the customer and how through quality, tone of voice, attention to detail, emotion, experience and rewarded loyalty.
How can I apply this to my work in future?
- When working on a brand I must first establish what are the functional benefits of the product followed by the emotional benefits and use this to effectively and accurately display and create self-expressive benefits by focusing on human-centric experiences and how this can be reflected in a brand and in the brands touchpoints.
- The development of a strong brand is really important as it is held as the top value indicator by customers therefore it is important for me to not undervalue my role or time spent on branding.
- When creating visual outcomes and touchpoints I must focus on the story I am trying to tap into about the product or brand in order to produce an emotional response from the customer as this will be more likely to produce an action.
- I need to remember developed consistency and quality across branding however I must also inject personality and focus on the emotional and experiential aspects of a brand to help people love the brand as well as respect it.
- When maintaining a brand I need to tap into very element of the product and every customer touchpoint to ensure consistency and make small improvements where possible enhance the customers experience and response to a brand .