Ever noticed the brand of laptop or smart phone someone uses and extended the brand image in your perception of the person? Maybe seen someone wear or carry a specific brand of shoes or bag and instinctively associated brand traits with the person? If you have never, well...you are clearly an exception!
One of the most painstaking tasks achieved by great brands is creating a strong and unique brand persona that their target audience can relate to, perhaps even personally associate with.
Exploring your brand associations can also help trigger interesting collaborations that could enhance your reach and give you access to new, relevant audiences. And not without good reason. Clearly, achieving a strong brand association is pragmatic and extremely useful, the kind that leads to direct or indirect marketing outcomes. In this era of social media and virtual connections, brands have come to rely even more on brand associations to achieve traction in customer engagement, as this opens up avenues apart from traditional advertising to put your brand out there.
Some iconic brands have leveraged strong brand associations by exploring new ways for intelligent product placement. Think about Apple's iconic MacBook laptops and the countless scenes in movies, where seeing a character use one tells you a bit about them already. While we don't factually know if that is the outcome of targeted product placement by the brand or simply the power of its brand persona ensuring movie makers pick the brand for such scenes, brands with lesser iconic value can also achieve similar results with targeted placements.
Closer home, the example of Palam Silks partnering with Red Chillies Entertainments for the movie, Chennai Express comes to mind. Having a lead character (Deepika Padukone) wear distinctive half-sarees and sarees in the movie and during promos for the film, augmenting that with the brand’s own marketing of the association with events and advertisements, ensured that Palam Silks achieved an instant mental connect with many young women, at least with reference to what is modern style applied to the traditional sari. The collection featured in the movie literally flew off the shelves. While movie pundits were analysing the box office stats, the brand had their cash registers ringing merrily at their stores for long after the movie was released.
Exploring your brand associations can also help trigger interesting collaborations that could enhance your reach and give you access to new, relevant audiences.
For instance, let us consider the collaboration of Tinder and Zomato. Dating and dining do certainly go well together. This synergy is even more pronounced on special occasions like Valentine’s Day, when a romantic dinner with your Valentine is top of most people’s minds. Leveraging this association that pre-exists in people’s minds, a joint campaign, Tinderlicious, was kicked off. It achieved tremendous success, simply proving how a genuine customer insight and right connect can be translated into marketing that works.
If such associations seem opportunistic and short lived, brands wanting a more enduring connect with their audiences can explore brand platforms. Brand platforms are an excellent way for brands to express their persona and create non-transactional references for people to ‘be-friend’ the brand. One of our favorite examples if the MTV Coke Studio - a brand platform that leverages the happiness of music to connect to the brand theme of key sponsor of the platform - Coca-Cola (Coke). Read our 2015 case study on this here
Most marketplaces for products and services are crowded. Exploring brand associations and platforms could be a very interesting way to bust the clutter and establish a direct connect with your desired target audience. Like most great marketing campaigns, this is usually a culmination of inspiration and perspiration. There is no clear formula or secret sauce. However, our experience reveals that it is possible to strike gold when the approach this right. Structured deconstruction of your brand and what it could potentially mean to different customer groups, married with a creative exploration of the values and traits your brand embraces. This dual approach should help you identify the right tracks for your brand association or platform.
-Authored by Nandhitha
with inputs from Snehaa and Pavithra Charan
Nandhitha is Asst.Manager Projects at Inception and contributes campaign ideas, social media support and brand content to the client brands she works with. Her love for writing now finds an additional expression on the Inception blog.
Snehaa is Asst.Manager Projects at Inception and brings the marketing plans of her client brands to life. Her curiosity to learn more about the thinking behind brands is often translated into meaningful insights that work their way into the Inception blog.
Pavithra is Founder & Partner at Inception Business Services. Being a marketer involves continuous learning and ongoing conversations and these are what keep her motivated to read more and also to try and write more.