Exposed! The Brands You Choose Do Reveal Who You Really Are

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In his book called “Emotional Branding : How Successful Brands Gain the Irrational Edge”, Daryl Travis takes a look at the emotional side of business and explains that a brand name is an emotional symbol.

In order to tap into the methodology needed to make this emotional connection between brand and customer requires a little intuitive thinking.

Automobiles are an excellent example of how the mystique of a brand works on the buying public. If traveling from one place to another was simply all there was to it, why are there so many makes and models of vehicles available? While price certainly plays a role, still there is  something else at play here.

How does a BMW or Jaguar make you feel? Why does a Jeep scream adventure or a Porsche precision? Each form of transportation we choose really does say something about us because of the emotional connection we make with that brand.

Where Did You Say You’re From?

The concept of emotional branding stretches even further to include such things such as geography. We are branded by the State we come from.  I am branded a “Californian” and treated as such according to how others view Californians to be. When I travel out of the country I am branded an American and treated accordingly.  The same also applies to cities. For example, while shopping in an elite boutique in San Francisco, my wife let it be known to a friendly, chatty clerk that we lived in the “East Bay” (Oakland, Hayward, San Leandro which apparently do not share the status of San Francisco). The clerk’s nose immediately ascended and  the friendly small talk stopped. No doubt you have at one time or other experienced something similar.

Social Class Branding

This notion of associating tangible products with intangible emotions reminds me of what Paul Fussell stated in his 1983 publication “Class, A Guide Through the American Status System”. In it he explains that while the concept of class distinction may be viewed by some as a repugnant commentary on American life, it is none-the-less present whether we care to admit it or not.

The application of class distinction is a universal concept. Regardless of the culture, there are those with more power, more influence and more money than others. Even among the wealthy themselves there are even further class distinctions.

“Social class” is ultimately indefinable. It is much like the concept of what constitutes something as “obscene”. Like Justice Potter Stewart, we as individuals can’t exactly draw the line, “but we know it when we see it”. Class distinction is not just determined by wealth but more importantly by the whole image an individual reveals about themselves.

You Can Not Hide – There Is No Escape

Everything in our life divulges information about who we are. From the clothes we wear, the car we drive, where we live, where we work, and even how we talk. In fact, one business designed to help students with their reading used this concept in their slogan: “People judge us by the words we use.” You may have heard of this business: “Hooked On Phonics”.

We have all heard the adage, “Don’t  judge a book by its cover.” However, the insurance industry earns huge profits by “judging covers”. They are not remotely interested in opening our pages to discover what we are all about as individuals. On the surface it may seem like that their method of gauging risk is based on prejudiced. If your a 32 year old male, living  in a rural area your car insurance will be lower than if you were an 18 year old living in the city. If your city has a population of 100,000 you will pay more than a city with only 10,000 people. If you own a Pontiac your insurance premiums will be lower than if you owned a Jaguar. Insurance companies are in business to make a profit. Utilizing factual, statistical data guarantees them those profits.

Insurance companies are not alone. Even you think in terms of category function that promote expectations and behavior. If you have an opinion, you are biased. If you turn down peaches with bruises, you are discriminating against them and practicing segregation by selecting peaches that don’t have bruises. In reality you are prejudice against soft spots on fruit. It is who you are at your very core that determines what you do and what products you bring home all based on category thinking.

Branding also has the same function, designed to promote expectations and hopefully, positive behavior such as purchasing. The Porsche is the brand name that promotes: Precision Engineering. The brand name Budweiser promotes: Here’s to you America, for being strong, for coming through. The brand creates a myth designed to resonate with their target market. Marketing is about connecting you with the myth in the hopes of directing your behavior.

The simple conclusion to all of this is: What you do, and what you posses are all inseparable from who you are.

What do the objects and brands in your life say about you? Find out what you are really declaring about yourself to the world Choose a link below:

Click here if you are ready to bring about more peace, contentment and balance into your life.

Click here if you are ready to take back control and gain mastery over your life.


 


About the author

CEO of Authentic Systems, Degree in Philosophy from University of California, Berkeley.
1 Response
  1. Biz Burnett

    John,

    Everything your wrote in this article is just as true but WAY more obvious than when you wrote it in early 2009.

    We may think “the ancients” believed in myths because they were “uneducated” compared to today’s standards. I’d love to know if way back then, the ancients KNEW they believed in myths, most of which I assume were religious in nature. Today, myths are pervasive and invasive. I doubt most people would agree with what you wrote, that “[B]rands create myths] designed to resonate with their target market. Marketing is about connecting you with the myth in the hopes of directing your behavior.”

    On a related note: According to the dictionary, a myth is “an idea or story that is believed by many people but that is not true.” The dictionary also shows one of the opposites of “myth” is “truth.” Many of today’s branding tactics (e.g., media ads, TV commercials) contain some element(s) of truth. To more accurately explain what branding and marketing are about, I would suggest the word “mythos,” which means “a pattern of beliefs expressing often symbolically the characteristic or prevalent attitudes in a group or culture.”

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