Our colleague, Sharon Livingston specializes in qualitative branding research. Over the years she has developed some techniques surrounding emotions and brands that are interesting and helpful to qualitative researchers dealing with brand identity issues. To that end she has also developed a set of archetype cards which she provides at www.iconicards.com. The following article from her blog explores branding and emotions using her four-part Livingston Paradigm of Self Esteem©,
In the way we at TLG see brands and help clients to think about them, the brand is an expression of a relationship with the product and with self, via the brand. It’s an emotional connection which is the glue of the relationship. People stay with a brand to continue experiencing the feelings they enjoy getting.
- I feel good about myself
- I’m confident/self confident
- I like myself
- I’m proud of myself
- I have better self worth
- I’m good
The customer’s relationship with a brand results in these overall positive feelings. It’s just human. We stay with a given brand, just like we stay in our people relationships, as long as we continue to maintain some positive feeling about self from the connection. Relationships fall apart when we’re no longer getting enough good feelings to want to stay with it.
The step just before the top of the ladder, self worth, is what specifically makes up feel better about ourselves, proud, confident, good. It’s also the specific “shade of good/better” that informs the mood and tone of our marketing applications and advertising.
There are many different avenues to increasing our targets’ sense of self worth. In our Livingston Paradigm of Self Esteem©, these fall into four classic categories which we have chosen to call . . .
- Category I – Healthy Narcissism [yes it’s possible and necessary to feel good about ourselves for what we reflect in our personal mirrors]
I’m FlexibleI’m CreativeI’m Free
- Category II – Love/Sex/Belonging
I’m LovedI’m Sexy
- Category III – Nurturance
I’m a good caretaker
- Category IV – Altruism/Giving back to Society
I take care of the worldI mentor the world
Feelings/Values that fall under Category I – Healthy Narcissism, include:
- Feeling Free
- Being in Control
- Having Integrity
- Enjoying Humor
- Being Creative, etc.
Those under Category II – Love/Sex/Belonging are items like:
- Being attractive/sexy
- Loving and feeling loved by another
Category III – Nurturance
- Being a good Mother/Father
- Being a good Manager
- Being a Caretaker
Category IV – Altruism
- Taking a political stand
- Protecting the Environment
- Being a community leader
The value of understanding the categories is that they link to Trial and Repeat.
Categories I and II are the kinds of things that get us charged up and excited. Features and functional benefits that lead to Cat I and II also create “Trial”. So fast cars [BMW] and big trucks [FORD] make some people feel empowered and in control, leading to a wish to test drive the car or Trial.
Categories III and IV are the “Shoulds” of society and the dharma of marketing. We believe we should be doing the right thing in our lives. These are features that have benefits like “saves time”/”saves money.” Such benefits and feelings that are associated with giving to others lead to “Repeat”. [If I have extra time/money I’ll spend it on my family and will be appreciated for being a better parent.] Volvo is known for its safety features leading up to Nurturance and Repeat. Volvo buyers are very loyal to their brand.
So the best, most compelling brands/marketing applications and ads ladder up to emotional end benefits associated with both trial and repeat. Combine Hi Performance with Safety as in the Volvo S80 and you pique interest for Trial while encouraging Repeat.
After years of research, we have discovered some short cuts for getting to emotional end benefits via identifying the Brand’s Archetypal character and story. In fact, as some of you know, we’ve created a deck of cards to help identify Brand Archetypes and their stories. [Check out www.Iconicards.com if you haven’t already, to see what they are and get some tips on how to use them. ] The stories include the emotional end benefit that is connected to each archetype. In the next blog I’ll tell you about some of these archetypes and how they load on emotional end benefits.
I sometimes can’t believe we get paid for doing such interesting work! Hope you AND YOUR CLIENTS enjoy the exploration and discoveries as much as I do.