Some of our favorite Brands stayed close to us during the pandemic lock down. Others were put on quarantine mode. What are the key elements which define what we select to be part of our lives, specially during hard times?
1. The temporary distance.
Of course, being in our house as a measure of protection obligates us to keep distance from activities that are part of our daily routine. You can think about the restaurants or bars you miss going to, visiting museums and events, missing stores and other services you usually purchase… This also includes touristic destinations. There are a lot of places investing in “Place Branding”. Do you catch yourself dreaming about next vacations?
There are the things that are just temporarily on hold, and will soon be part of your lives again. Some Brands have the capacity of staying in our hearts in a ‘sleeping mode’.
The positive side of a lock down is that a restraining situation “forces” us to create an emotional priority list. Where to go first, as soon as the frontiers are down? With limited money, what is essential to buy? The answer to those questions really tells a lot about the Brands we love. Because in many cases, we only start to really value specific things once we lose them.
2. The structure in the mist of chaos.
The ancients understood long ago that life is filled with a mixture of messy periods and peaceful moments. It’s part of our essence to define life as a roller coaster of events. The truth is, within the ups and downs of life, lies the essential truth of moments of order, versus moments of pure chaos.
It’s undeniable that the pandemic episode is chaotic, which requires its “meta” antagonist. The antidote is expected. Meaning the elements capable of bringing the feeling of stepping on safe ground, instead of thin ice. Some Brands are able to bring us this feeling of “order”, and most of the times they might be related to escape or comfort routes.
You may think as a brand of a certain type of food, or cleaning product, or streaming content, which can bring you the feeling of safety. There are even “branded categories” that help you feel at ease and relaxed during periods of high anxiety. Like wines, or chocolate, for instance. Categories can be “branded” in our brains as a relief, or balance recipe, for they can give us a feeling of security are quite reliable during difficult times, and will not easily be forgotten. Those are relationships built on trust, as if we’re saying to ourselves “I can rely on you” during difficult times. Remember the vows of marriage? For better, or for worse.
3. Connecting our ideals to something real.
This is the most important thing to understand about Branding. The key is to go beyond the cultural or “sociographic” layers that usually defines what we qualify as “targets”. Forget gender, age, or place people live in. Go deeper. As human beings we have a lot of things in common. One of such things is that we look at the world as an endless possibility of events.
We look at life as what it could be.
It is in our nature to have ideals. Even an ideal version of us. Some Branding experts, that I know and respect, say that Brands are one of the many connections between our actual self, to our ideal self. If we pay attention to such human behavior, it is clear that some Brands are capable of representing our best potential. The way we want to be seen, to be understood, the self we want to achieve.
Every powerful Brand brings, not only a message, but a statement that relates to our deepest desires. Nike talks to us about overcoming our own physical and mental limits; Disney helps us believe in magic while looking at the world through the eyes of a child. Understanding what Brands stand for is the job of every Brand manager. What’s behind a product or service? The answer: It’s a psychological meaning. It’s about feelings and what do we get from them.
Thus, the role of a meaningful Brand is to connect those unconscious collective needs (as Carl Jung predicted), to an idea “dressed up” as a Brand. Not just any idea, but a tangible concept turned into an experience.
For instance: When you buy a Volvo, there is a meaning hidden behind your “rational” explanation on why you chose that Brand. Same thing when you buy yourself a new Apple smartphone. Or a particular French wine.
Even during quarantine, some Brands, rather temporarily distant or not, will still be able to represent our ideal image or ourselves, or that “potential being” we crave so much to become real. And that’s the most powerful aspect of a Brand: to create the ultimate bond between our deepest ideals and reality.
If I could guess, you’ve probably thought about a few number of Brands that were part of your life during the quarantine; and a few Brands which were put on “quarantine mode” due to this atypical situation.
What will define which ones will stay in your life, and which ones will be erased from your priority list, is how well they are capable of understanding who do you want to be, and how do you need to feel.