Developing, building, and promoting a brand identity is the most important step any business can take to reach consumers in a rapidly evolving marketplace. Today, consumers are attracted to firms who’s brand they identify with. Through the use of brand personas, large companies such as Toyota with the ever-present Jan, Gieco with the Gecko, and Progressive Insurance with Flow, attract consumers who are prone to associate with the personas.
Brand Persona & Identity
The brand persona garners credibility and familiarity with the consumer, thus increasing the authority of the brand message. Brand personas serve to differentiate the brand from competitors and, the brand persona is a useful tool that disables the inner cynic that lives in every consumer.
The first step in developing a credible brand identity is to understand the consumer you are trying to reach. Demographic and psychographic research is necessary for identifying the market segments that are most likely to need or want your product.
Bonding With Consumers
Once the ideal consumer is identified, developing a relationship with the consumer requires cultivating “a sense of natural comfort and fit, a feeling of emotional connectedness and bonding, a deep integration with a consumer’s core values, a heightened level of desire and interaction, a commitment to it’s long-term use, attitude valence and strength”(Batra, R., & Bagozzi, R. 2012).
Developing a connection with the emotional attraction that is associated with strongly held values, provides intrinsic rewards, and creates an emotional bonding with the consumer, and is the goal of creating a brand identity (Batra, R., & Bagozzi, R. 2010). Once consumers are attached to your brand, they become fierce advocates and ambassadors.
For instance, take Apple; Apple fans and ambassadors are viscerally connected to the brand. They are price insensitive, are more apt to upgrade to a new product offered by the brand, and will defend the brand fiercely. Apple brand advocates and fans are engaged in “frequent, interactive behaviors with” the brand (Batra, R. & Bagozzi, R. 2012).
Developing Consumer Generated Content
Consumers who identify with your brand will also engage in word of mouth promotion for three fundamental purposes: social, emotional, and functional (Lovett, M. J., Peres, R., & Shachar, R. 2013). Word of mouth (WOM) advocacy is better characterized as consumer generated content. Advocates use social media to promote their preferred brand. Creating fans and ambassadors who use social media to cheer for the brand are the most cherished of consumers. A positive comment or brand review is just a click away.
For those brand advocates who engage in word of mouth (WOM) behavior, “The main social driver is the desire to send signals to others about one’s expertise, uniqueness, or social status; the emotional driver is the need to share positive or negative feelings about brands to balance emotional arousal; and the functional driver motivates people to provide and supply information” (Lovett, M. J., Peres, R., & Shachar, R. 2013).
So, creating, developing and promoting a brand identity must be able to attract dedicated fans and advocates, provide quality and utility that stimulates “Brand Love,” and create a relationship with the consumer that facilitates the consumer’s desire to enjoy, promote, and protect the brand. Creating a brand persona that attracts these important consumers creates a groundswell of brand awareness that draws the casual consumer into the anointed throng of brand advocates.
Barra, R., & Bagozzi, R., P. (2012). Brand Love. Journal of Marketing, 76(2), 1 – 16. doi: 10.1509/jm.09.0339
Lovett, M. J., Peres, R., & Shachar, R. (2013). On Brands and Word of Mouth. Journal of Marketing Research (JMR), 50(4), 427 – 444)