One of the 6 Cult Brand Principles is “Be Relatable”, and this is best achieved when brands personify human attributes. The most iconic cult brands do this very well – Apple, Harley, Nike, Converse, Starbucks, LuluLemon, to name a few. Each of these brands use human characteristics, personas, language, and imagery, in conjunction, to amplify their brand attributes, ensuring they resonate with consumers on a deeper level.

beats-by-apple

Be Relatable: Personification

An article by Sam Biddle of Gizmodo highlights the need to personify brands and shift away from the plethora of product attributes and descriptions. The article discusses how a smart, technically savvy company – Monster (the speaker company, not the energy drink) recently lost out on most of the spoils of the $3 Billion acquisition by Apple. Biddle provides remarkable insight into how one party (Monster) over-emphasized the features and benefits of their product while another party (lead by music mogul Jimmy Lovine) focused its efforts almost exclusively on the brand persona– particularly rappers, as personified by Dr. Dre. Jimmy is clearly the victor and now has $3 Billion proving why his way is better.

There is a need to personify brands and shift away from the plethora of product attributes and descriptions.

Why Buy? 

This need for brands to shift towards more consumer-centric behaviour is further highlighted in C. Richard Weylman’s book “The Power of Why”. People are weary of being bombarded with information and pleas to buy, they want to know why your company helps them, essentially – what is in it for them? In this case, elevating status and one’s public image through a strong brand persona is a clear way Beats By Dre improves consumer’s lives. What is unique about this particular case is that instead of forming business initiatives around how to help consumers, this “why” was crafted through clever positioning; all done utilizing personification.

Consider this excerpt from the article:

“The Dr. Dre task force took Monster’s audio gear and pimped it, tirelessly, as a gadget status symbol without rival. That was the plan—period. Marketing would take too long. Education would take too long. Instead, the strategy was to enchant the public: Beats would be “the hottest product to have, and sound will be a Trojan horse… Jimmy and Dre took decent headphones that could swamp your ears with low-end, isolate you from street noise, and keep your skull relatively comfortable during a long walk, and made all of these qualities irrelevant under a sheen of rapper-lure.”

Getting People to Buy-In

This is perhaps the most recent (and lucrative) example of human brand personification I’m aware of. A headphone company alone isn’t worth $3 Billion, but by aligning their entire brand strategy, and all their marketing emphasis, around the rapper persona – exemplified by Dr. Dre himself – a cultural phenomenon was born. It is important to ensure whatever persona you choose to portray, that it properly aligns with your target audience. You must connect your brand logically and emotionally if consumers are to “buy-in”. Ask yourself, “Why do we exist?” and “Why would consumers want to buy from us?” and connect the two to properly develop your brand personality.

A headphone company alone isn’t worth $3Billion, but by aligning their entire brand strategy, and all their marketing emphasis, around the rapper persona – exemplified by Dr. Dre himself – a cultural phenomenon was born.

Read the full article here and consider how your brand may want to shift focus from product-centric marketing to personifying human attributes.

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