Wednesday , 20 June 2018
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Why branding works

Why branding works… The desire to be part of something bigger

why branding worksTo really understand what it is about branding that appeals to people, we first have to understand the deeply entrenched set rules that we as people, animals, or however you would like to refer to yourself, actually work to, whilst observing the guidelines, parameters and systems that we work within…sure Brands act as a sign post for the product or service, building associations etc but that’s not all and not enough either.

To avoid going into the deep physiological motivations that affect all of us, for the purposes of this article I am forced to make some sweeping generalisations. The first of these is that beyond all other emotional requirements, we have an unending drive to be understood. Understanding is the lifeblood of our emotional state. For those of you that wish to do a little back reading about this somewhat broad statement, I can suggest several well written studies, that do a far better job of explaining why this is than I can deliver in this short thought piece.

To illustrate: have you ever noticed that most people actually quite like talking about their thoughts, feelings, opinions and emotions to other people. We see the evidence of this in the massive popularity of status updates and tweets etc…

At a party or social function have you ever noticed what it is about people that makes them interesting? Generally (sweeping generalisation number 2 coming) it’s that they are interested in what you are saying.

Conversely have you ever noticed that the most boring person at a dinner party is the one that loves to talk about themselves…

So where am I going with this… Oh yes branding

Throughout history we see evidence of mans achievements when working as part of a team or system or working towards a common belief. Indeed most truly great achievements have been accomplished by groups of people working together towards as common goal. It could be a religious group an army or a company the list goes on but why do these people want to work together? This team mentality is nothing more than a great platform for shared understanding; this in turn gives payback to the individuals by letting them be understood.

In short being part of a group helps us feel understood appealing to our inner most emotional desires.

Can you tell where I’m going next?

Brand choice helps us make statements to the world about who we are and what type of person we would like to be. As well as the positive associations we build with the products and services we buy, we are also saying something to the world about who we are and how we see things.
So how does this affect the brand you build? To have meaning “Brands” have to stand for something greater than the products or service they’re selling. Investing time and attention into the development of your brands can really help draw people to them. You will of course alienate some people but that is just the way of things. Better to be brand not bland.

Today’s consumer is not really a consumer. To be a consumer suggests that a person (or people) is actively engaged in the activity of consuming. Most of us are simply not in the mood to engage with the marketing message that we are bombarded with on a daily basis. To truly engage brands need to think in terms inviting people to explore. Set out your stool and if people like what you are saying they will gravitate towards the brands they wish to engage with in there own time and under there own terms. Consumer behaviour becomes more about following what people do daily instead of what they’re exposed to daily, that they’re most likely ignoring.
So as a closing question to ponder on in your next creative brief.

Suggested reading

Eating the big fish by Adam Morgan
Psycho Cybernetics Dr Maxwell Maltz

If your brand or brands need to make your customers feel understood to resonate, how does that message reach people at a time and place when they are happy to receive it? How would you answer ‘how branding works’?

Jody is an experienced marketing professional, brand strategist and planner. Passionate about developing innovative marketing solutions that make a real difference in today’s complex market and working with companies to co-create propositions and brand strategies that have a true positive effect on their businesses. His career has been built around working with agencies and with brand owners to uncover the engaging truths within brands and then find creative ways to bring this to life and engage with people across all communication channels.

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About GregDillon

Greg is the founder of strategy consultancy GD | Inspires and spends his days strategising for various design agencies and clients around the world - see more at He is also a prolific entrepreneur having launched - a website aimed at giving advice and insight to new, existing and veteran freelancers as well as commenting on all things strategic. Feel free to email him at: or follow on Twitter @StratTalking

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