Human Beings, Brand Beings
By Sherwood MacVeigh
The Brand Being – a new paradigm in understanding how to create and evolve a brand; stripping away all the marketing speak and focusing on the relationships you want to create.
Being a Brand
What does being a brand really mean? If the definition of “being” is existence or the nature/essence of, then “being” is simply acting or behaving in a way that is expected. Being a brand isn’t simply managing a product or service as a transaction; it’s more about its existence and the brand acting & behaving as people have deemed it should. When a brand is being, it is engaging with people. It has a personality and it is making promises. People are experiencing something and in return so is the brand. When people press like on Facebook, complete a purchase, or tell their friends in response, the brand feels the response of the market. A brand being is alive; feeling, responding, reacting and constantly engaging with people. Being a brand is very similar to being human, and just like human beings, brands need people, community and relationships.
Let’s take a look at how brands have evolved from just an identity to a thing you truly identify with. (And in some cases, identify as.)
People don’t like being alone, and neither do brands.
As people continue to experience a brand, they should begin to trust and maybe even love a brand. Brands today are truly creating relationships. Taking responsibility for what people think, feel, and experience with them is what a good partner should do. But just like in real relationships, whether it’s a friendship or marriage, we’re usually not good partners – though our intentions are to be. Brands should always be thinking about bettering their relationships with people.
The evolution of human relationships: what a brand can learn.
Looking for brand relationship insights, I turned to an expert on human relationships: Esther Perel. Not so coincidentally, the same things that are challenging modern relationships are challenging brands and business
Let’s just look at the last 30 years…
With friendships, relationships, and brands, there are more choices than ever. How and where you meet a brand, like how and where you meet people, is totally new too. With online options, we’ve made “making a choice” very difficult. There are almost too many choices to make and with FOMO in the air, it is easy to understand why people don’t want to make a choice. They’d rather keep trying new brands and not staying loyal to their favorite brands. Loyalty is turning into “ease” and “habit.”
Being “everything” to your partner.
Perel makes the point that in the past people didn’t have to be “everything” to each other. They had clearer expectations about roles and therefore didn’t expect their spouse play every role: provider, lover, friend, caregiver, business partner, psychologist, etc. Spouses have become everything. And that’s tough. It causes you to fall down. For a brand, you can try to be everything to your consumer, but it might be better to set expectations around what you really can provide. Don’t overpromise, just over deliver.
Longevity of life.
We’re living longer. With longer life comes longer commitments, especially if you vow “to death do us part.” Brands make promises, but these promises can evolve over the years, just like a partner’s promises may evolve. The fundamental promise will remain true, but to really be there for someone throughout their life, you must evolve or adjust the promise to make sure it is still relevant for them. Understanding people at different life stages, what they are valuing based on current events, what is impacting their feelings and behaviors, is not only smart, it is what a great partner intuitively does.
Your future depends on it:
Love. Desire. And yes, even erotica.
The Beatles sang “All You Need Is Love”, but Perel says you just might need a little more. To really strengthen a relationship you need to understand and leverage the inherent tension between love and desire to create a more erotic relationship. Yes, brands need to think this way too.
Love is having something. Desire is wanting something. Perel says that the best relationships must feed both of these emotions, but how do you create desire for something you already have? That’s where Erotica comes in. Don’t think of the term “erotic” or “erotica” in its modern connotation of sex, but rather as a life force. How do you reimagine yourself? How do you reinvent yourself? How do you bring back an energy, a vitality, a liveliness?
To paraphrase Perel, “you connect with the aliveness.” With aliveness there is meaning, purpose, creativity, playfulness and connection to oneself, to one’s partner’s families, and to the world. If a brand is filled with aliveness, it will connect to people, and people will connect to it.
Constantly be thinking: How can I reconnect?
Brands must continually evaluate their relationship with the consumer and genuinely create experiences that their consumers both love and desire. Ones that connect them to their values, the world today.