A closer look at how businesses are trying to get your attention using strategic brand messaging.
Nike, Google, Zippo, Coca Cola, Apple. These are some big businesses. Wait no, these are some big brands. A brand is the fusion of business, design, signs, symbols, marketing, experience, and attitudes that combine to create an image and feeling for a company’s product or service. As long as business exists, so will brands and so will brand messaging. Properly branding a business is essential in order to sustain a company or organization for years to come. Over time several approaches to branding have developed in order to craft the right message to appeal to the target audience. Let’s look at some examples, shall we?
“Look at what we can do.”
Have you ever seen an appliance advertisement? Major appliance brands like Maytag, Whirlpool, GE, and others are always telling you the specific features of their washer and dryer, freezer, etc. They talk about the auto load sensing capabilities of this washer or the digital temperature controls of that refrigerator. With these messages, appliance brands are trying to establish credibility using expertise as well the belief that because they have more (or better) features their brand’s product is a better choice. When using this message strategy, a product’s features are the key.
“Our stuff shows your status.”
While car ads contain many features too, vehicle brand messaging is famous for showing their products as a status symbol. Mercedes, BMW, Cadillac, Audi, and more have worked hard to associate themselves with luxury, elevated status, and of course money. The goal of a company like Fiat is to make you look at one of their cars and say, “That Fiat 500 will make people realize I’m somebody.” Certainly not all car brands have status-based messaging, and this type of messaging is definitely not limited to the auto industry. However, the countless car commercials, print advertisements, and other marketing strategies are proof that we know what we’re talking about.
“Look at who we are. Look at who YOU are.”
Now we have the latest technique for brand messaging: creating an identity and relationship with a brand through their product or service. Take Coca Cola for example. Not only do they sell a variety of popular beverages, but they have created a globally cohesive brand upon the idea that a simple bottle of Coke has the ability to bring people together. They reached the epitome of brand personalization when they gave coke drinkers the ability to buy soda with their own name on the label. They bring people in and create a relationship. Coke isn’t the only company excelling at creating an identity with brand messaging, though.
Subaru is developing an unbreakable emotional connection with car buyers using their tagline, “Love. It’s what makes a Subaru, a Subaru.” The goal of their messaging is to start this thought process, ”I care about things. Subaru cares about things. I should buy a Subaru because they care about things like I do.” This brand not only wants to bring you and your family into their identity, but they want you to make Subaru a part of your family and your identity. Relational branding is about reciprocation from the audience – it’s a two way street. Their inclusive message touches a gigantic audience and makes a lasting connection on a personal level.
Did you get that?
I said, make a lasting connection. In this modern era where technology allows you to see thousands of messages a day, one of the only hopes a business has is to build a lasting brand. Businesses have to build a lasting brand that has a connection to the audience. Without that connection, your message gets lost in a great sea of brand messaging. A lot of modern brand powerhouses are using the first two techniques we talked about -branding with features and branding with status -, but ultimately what they need is to connect. Big business can no longer ignore the emotional state of their target audience. The goal cannot simply be to sell a product or service anymore; you have to make a lasting connection with the audience. That includes everyone from the big dogs of New York City to the small businesses of suburban U.S.A.