Balancing rational and emotional in branding

I just read a negative review of Satchi and Satchi President Kevin Roberts’ lecture based on his book Lovemarks.

Point number 1 from Roberts’ lecture: “Brands were invented for one reason only: to charge a premium; a higher price, a higher margin.”

First, let me de-bunk the idea that the purpose of branding is to command a premium price. The purpose of SOME companies and brands is to command a premium price. But many companies do not hold this as the goal. I don’t think that anyone can argue that Wal-Mart is not a gigantic brand. (Personally, I hate Wal-Mart, but it’s one heck of an impressive brand.) Or McDonalds. Or Taco Bell. Or Target. Or the Red Cross. Or the Girl Scouts. Or any other great non-profit brand.

While I agree that Roberts’ underlying motivations are suspect, and that he has gone to an extreme with the emotional side of branding to the exclusion of all else, it doesn’t mean that we can ignore the emotional side of branding.

My favorite case-in-point is my relationship with Apple. I have been a Mac user since 1984. It’s interesting to read what so-called brand experts (Johnny-come-lately’s, hopping on the bandwagon) claim are the reasons why Apple is successful….I can’t speak for everyone, but I love Apple because their products are GREAT…. extremely easy-to-use, and well-built. This is where my emotional connection to Apple comes from… because I connect with their story AND they have great products. It’s not purely an emotional connection because they are cool. We need BOTH the rational and the emotional…. it’s not an either/or proposition.

I totally agree with Alan’s critique of Roberts’ same-old, same-old command and control attitude… it’s about connecting to people on an equal footing, talking with them authentically, not about treating people as an unwashed mass to be manipulated. In Roberts’ world, it’s all about the money. And for some people, that is also what it’s all about. It’s just that I think for most of us, it’s about much more than just money.

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