Social Media Strategy and Branding: What Are the Eight Functions of a Brand?

A world class brand has 8 functions. It is critical to understand these functions to create a world-class brand. In a New Media Age, a marketer must have a solid understanding of branding. Social Media is a god send for a marketer. In order for this great tool to work, a marketer must be able to drive customers to their brand, at the exclusion of all other brands.

The great part of social media is its incredible scale. This is also its greatest drawback. In social media there is just so much content. People have to come to your product for social media to work—and this is why branding is critical.

The eight functions of a brand are IDENTIFICATION, PRACTICALITY, GUARANTEE, OPTIMISATION, BADGE, CONTINUITY, HEDONISM, AND ETHICS. Let me briefly summarize each of these functions.

A brand clearly identifies a product and clearly explains why that product is different than the other products in that market space. Simply, a brand is the thing that sets a product a part from all other products. It helps a consumer make sense of an offer. Simply, the brand will identify a product for a consumer. A brand will act as a lighthouse for a consumer, shining a beacon in their eyes, in order that they will know what products to select in a flooded marketplace.

Products and brands all have a “story”. With so many products in the marketplace, a consumer needs a mechanism to explain, in simple terms, what a particular product is, and why that consumer should select that product. A brand saves time and energy for a consumer. People know that this is the product they want at this time. On a hot day, after a hard day’s work, a consumer wants a place to regroup. Where do you go. You go to a building that is clearly marked (branded). You go to this building because you know that you can sit down a relax in this building. Over a long series of touchpoints, the product has assured you that sit in this building a enjoy this product.

A brand guarantees the product. The brand communicates to the consumer that if the product doesn’t work out as expected, the money or the product will be replaced.

A brand creates an image for a consumer. It creates a badge. The use of this brand communicates to other people that you are “successful”. A certain car is used by successful businessmen. Other cars might more sense, economically, to buy, but this car conveys “success”. If you drive this car, the brand gives you a badge.

Brands create a sense of satisfaction and trust. They create continuity. A bank’s symbol conveys that it has been in business for 200 years. If you bank there, the brand tells a consumer that their money is safe, and in good hands. When you buy a house, and there is a hurricane, a certain insurance company puts you in good hands. Brands a create friendship with customers in the social media age. This creates a relationship. It is relationships based on friendship that motivate a customer to buy.

Brands are hedonistic. The relationship between a customer and a product creates a friendship that leads to enchantment and attractiveness of the product. The hedonism of a brand creates loyalty. To create this enchantment, logos, theme songs, and phrases are created that communicate the experiential rewards.

The satisfaction that the product brings is linked to responsible and ethical behavior. This responsibility solidifies the relationship between the product and consumer and creates the long term relationship that leads to brand.

Some brands have succeeded in proving with their slogans that they know and understand what their fundamental task is: to transform the product category. A brand not only acts on the market. It organizes the market, drives a vision, creates a calling, and develops a clear idea of what the category is all about. Too many brands wish only to identify with the product category. In social media, products and consumers create a two way friendship.

Social Media And Branding: The Benefits Of An Umbrella Brand

A salient fact about social media marketing is the fact that markets move so very fast. Social media creates great scale. The scale creates the great speed that we find in contemporary markets. The way that social media brands are created is that first a product is positioned. The scale of the market makes it evolve. This means that the product is repositioned. As the brand continues, the repositioning creates a new positioning.

The way that the early car industry was branded is an example. Two great giants of this era were Henry Ford of the Ford Motor Company and Billy Durant who created General Motors. Both understood that the original market would depend upon low price. Durant also felt that the low price should also have variant brands to target different groups. Henry thought that price was the key and he created a world class brand in the Model T. For a time, Henry’s bet was the correct one.

The market evolved overtime. As the decade of the 1910’s progressed a middle class developed. With more resources available, people began to want more than just a low price in a car. The variance of income created different targets for the car. This created the necessity for the car to be branded in different ways. Luckily, for GM, Billy Durant had created these different brands. In the General Motors model, Chevy was the entry level for low income people. Ponitac was the next level. This is for people who start a job, and start receiving early career promotions. For the mature mid career there is the Oldsmobile. For those people know on the fast track there is the Buick. Finally, for the people who have made it, there is the Cadillac.

I think the GM model is the model that modern social marketing should follow. Different income groups define their products in a different manner. The brands help them define themselves. This is the beginning of what is called the “umbrella” brand. This is several brands of the same product, under the roof of one company. It is this strategy that allowed General Motors to overcome a seemingly insurmountable lead by Ford in the 1920’s to become the pre-eminent brand in cars. What are the benefits to having an umbrella brand in relation to having just one big brand like the Model T.

As in the case of General Motors, a big benefit is MARKET GROWTH. There is strength in numbers. With many brands, like the GM family, there is constant engagement with the General Motors brand, instead of the singular General Motors “car”. As In the GM case, no one brand can control the entire market. This is the genius of Albert Sloan. It was Albert Sloan that has taught marketers the importance of targeting, segmenting, differentiation, and branding. This is in clear contrast to Mr. Ford’s assertion that you can have any color you want as long as it is black.

Multi brands PREVENT BRAND EXTENSION. In 1923, there were many car companies, most with one brand. By having multi brands, Mr. Sloan was able to consolidate the market and to dissuade the smaller struggling companies not to extend their brand and to get out of the market, allowing General Motors to concentrate on Ford.

Multi brands PROTECT THE BRAND IMAGE. Everyone knows that Chevy, Ponitac, Olds, Buick, and Cadillac were General Motor brands. Each of the cars contributed to the GM image. Ford’s singular brand in the Model T worked against Ford. Because it had only one brand, Mr. Sloan was able to portray the Model T as a brand “built by farmers for farmers”.

Dean Hambleton

[email protected]

Sensorial Branding – The Future of Brand Building

“People spend money when and where they feel good”
– Walt Disney

Most brands & products are now interchangeable. This sad statement emanates from one of the fathers of marketing, Philip Kotler.

For a brand to be identified, recognized and understood in its values is the core of every strategy, the nagging issue of every marketing manager.

However, in a competitive environment where the usage & functional value of a brand (a product or a service) can be easily copied or duplicated, what is left to stand out from the crowd? How can the customer’s preference be triggered to ensure their loyalty? How can the tie that will closely link your brand to the consumer and put you ahead of the competition be built, retained or strengthened?

These are questions to which sensorial branding answers: use senses (and their impact on the consumers’ perceptions) to enrich the brand experience and build up its uniqueness and personality, while ultimately paving the way to the consumers’ affection, preference and loyalty.

Sensorial branding (and sensorial marketing) fills the gap left by traditional marketing theories when it comes to answering today’s consumer mindset. This new kind of thinking finds its origins in the ’90s, with the shift from the rational mindset that formerly prevailed in the consumer’s decision-making process to the emotional and hedonist quest that now drives their desires and consumption acts.

In reaction to an increasingly virtual and pressurized industrial world, people have started seeking a way to reconnect to reality in their private sphere, for a pathway to re-enchant their world. The individual values of pleasure, well-being and hedonism rose along with a true new concept of consumption that exposed the limits of traditional marketing theories.

Consumption today is a form of “being”. Just like any leisure activity, it becomes a place to express a piece of your personality, where you share common values with a small group of other individuals (a tribe). And maybe more than anything else, consumption acts must be analyzed as “felt” acts, as experiences capable of providing emotions, sensations and pleasure.

Purchasing acts are driven by this desire for sensational experiences that re-ignite senses and drive emotions. No matter how effective a product may be, it is its hedonist and emotional added-value, as well as the distinctive experience it offers, that lead consumers to buy it and ensure its loyalty.

What does it mean from a branding point of view?

First, it means that price and functionality are now taken for granted (or, in other words, not sufficiently differentiating). It is now the intangible, irrational and subjective attributes of the brand offering that are the new factors of success.

Second, it highlights the fact that sensations, new experiences and emotions must be part and parcel of the brand experience. It is through these 3 channels that the brand can create greater differentiation, influence consumer’s preference and secure their affection.

In summary, focusing the brand strategy on rational arguments regarding its functional value is no longer sufficient to ensure success. What is clear is that empowered brands are the ones managing to deliver hedonist and emotional attributes throughout the brand experience. This is where brands can add meaning and, therefore, value and sense to products and services, transforming them from interchangeable commodities into powerful brands.

This is where sensorial branding is competent: exploring and unveiling how brands can connect with people in a more sensitive way, at this true level of senses and emotions. To put it more clearly, it focuses on exploring, expressing, and empowering the brand’s hedonist and emotional potentials.

In this theory, sensations prevail because they are a direct link to consumers’ affections. Senses are directly affected by the limbic part of the brain, the area responsible for emotion, pleasure and memory. In a way, it is no big surprise. This is all about going back to basics, to what actually appeals to a human being on an everyday basis. Sense is a vital part of our human experience. Almost our entire understanding and perception of the world is experienced through our senses. A growing number of research shows that the more senses your product appeals to, the greater the brand experience.

While communication & visual identity focus mainly on sight and sound, an accurate poly-sensorial identity integrating touch, smell (and taste when applicable), sends a more powerful emotional message to consumers, multiplying the connections or touch points through which the consumers can be attracted, convinced and touched by the brand. It enables and encourages consumers to “feel” and “experience” the brand (product or service) with their “emotional brain”.

As Martin Lindstrom, author of best-selling book Brand Sense states, success lies in mastering a true sensory synergy between the brand and its message.

The first brand to intuitively implement the sensorial branding theory was Singapore Airlines. Like any other airline company, Singapore Airlines’ communication and promotions primarily focused on cabin comfort, design, food and price. The breakthrough was made when they decided to incorporate the emotional experience of air travel. The brand platform they implemented aimed at one simple, but rather revolutionary, objective: to present Singapore Airlines as an entertainment company. From that moment onward, every detail of the Singapore Airlines travel experience was scrutinized and a new set of branding tools were implemented: from the finest silk and colours chosen for the staff uniform, to the make up of the flight attendants that had to match Singapore Airline’s brand colour scheme; from the drastic selection of the flight attendants that had to be representative of the “Asian beauty archetype”, to the way they should speak to passengers and serve food in the cabin. Everything had to convey smoothness and relaxation to transform the Singapore Airlines travel experience into a true sensorial journey. Right after turning the Singapore Airlines flight attendant into an iconic and emblematic figure of the brand (the famous “Singapore Girl”), they broke through the barriers of marketing again by introducing a new dimension to the brand: a signature scent. They specifically designed a signature scent, called Stefan Floridian Waters. This olfactory signature was used by the crew, blended into the hot towels served to passengers, and it soon permeated the entire fleet of planes. Described as smooth, exotic and feminine, it was the perfect reflection of the brand and achieved instant recognition of Singapore Airlines upon stepping into the aircraft. It soon became a unique and distinctive trademark of Singapore Airlines, capable of conveying a set of memories all linked to comfort, sophistication and sensuality.

Another example given by Martin Lindstrom is Rolls Royce. To recapture the feeling of older “rollers” and maintain the luxurious aura surrounding the brand, Rolls Royce analysed and recreated the unique smell made by materials like mahogany wood, leather and oil that permeated the interior of the 1965 Silver Cloud Rolls-Royce. Now every Rolls Royce leaving the factory is equipped with a diffuser in the underside of the car’s seat to convey this unique identity of the brand.

What we learn here is that only when all the sensory touch points between the brand and consumer are integrated, evaluated and leveraged can true enrichment of your brand identity be achieved. In the future, it can become the most cutting-edge tool to stand out from the crowd, boosting the brand experience and eventually influencing consumer loyalty.

Few brands today are truly integrating sensorial branding in their strategy, while forward thinking companies are already implementing it with success. Adding a sensorial dimension to the brand experience is surely about to become the next competitive asset.

In the future, brand building for marketers may lie in one simple question: what does my brand feel like?
To get more information about Sensorial Branding services, either in China or internationally you can come have a look at Labbrand website.

Vladimir Djurovic