If someone asked you for a cola, would you hand them a Coca-Cola or a Pepsi-Cola? Chances are you would hand them a Coca-Cola. Isn’t it fascinating that although both companies are famous for their cola flavored sodas, most people would only associate one of the brands with the word “cola”? The power of brand marketing and the way it can manipulate a consumer’s view of a company or brand is something which has always fascinated me.
Brand Associations can be anything that is deep seated in a customer’s mind about a brand.
For example – The Nike Swoosh, the “friendliness” of Apple’s computer, or even the word “cola” with Coke. Associations provide acquaintance and differentiation that’s not replicable. It relates perceived qualities of a brand to a known entity.
When was the last time you thought about your association’s publications and content, and then carefully considered the following:
- Product — what you offer, sell and create. This can be anything from your curated content newsletter to a research report to your annual conference. These are all your tangible benefits.
- Promise — the feeling you create between you and your members. Many marketing experts call this a key value proposition or your key differentiator, but this makes brand promise sound so dry. The reason for brand promise is to create a feeling. Take Coca-Cola’s brand promise. It’s not about how carefully they control quality to guarantee the precise quantity of sugar milligrams per can. Coca-Cola’s brand promise is fun, freedom, and refreshment. They are appealing to your emotion, not your logic.
- Look — this is your design, colors, patterns, and tones used to establish a consistent image. It includes your association’s logo, web design, the design of published material, email templates, stationary, and anything and everything that flows out of the association.
- Voice — the tone a brand uses in advertising. Brand voice is a combination of personality and attitude. During research studies, big brands will often ask customers to describe the brand as if it’s a person to better understand this dynamic. Over time, associations sometimes take on a brand voice, to their detriment, without even meaning to.
- Story — uses words, images, and sound to create the association’s story. So many associations tell of features and benefits. However, notice that Coke doesn’t market red cans of caffeinated bubbly sugar water — they market youth, beauty, community, fun, and adventure.