How To Differentiate Your Brand / 2
Here is the news flash: Over the last two decades, brands have become 200% less distinct from one another. The ones that stand out, however, have something in common: They integrate two seemingly opposing personality traits.
2. Expressive benefit + Emotional benefit
At the heart of every brand lies a promise. Brands make our life easier, more fun, or more meaningful. By offering us a benefit (or a set of benefits) they allow us to achieve something or become someone. Our second method is about identifying those benefits and building tension among them.
Brand benefits could be functional (makes your hair more manageable), sensorial (has a crunchy texture), expressive (makes the user look nonconformist), or emotive (makes the user feel sexual.) As you see, the first two types of benefits are based on physical attributes, whereas the latter two have symbolic meaning, which makes them perfect tools for building tension. How? Let’s find out.
To a varying degree, we all care about our personal image. Thus, we create a persona, a controlled version of how we look in public. Expressive benefits help us shape our image. Emotional benefits, on the other hand, are about how we feel, not how we are perceived. In Brand Meaning, the author Mark Batey demonstrates the difference with an insightful example.
Let’s say that you are wearing a cooking apron. The act of wearing it conveys that you are a gourmet, a connoisseur of good food, someone with a discerning palate. That’s the outward-oriented expressive benefit. But that’s only half of the story. There is an emotional significance of wearing a cooking apron as well. You may feel proud and satisfied from preparing and serving a well-appointed meal. And that’s the inward oriented emotional benefit.
Some brands are expert at building tension among expressive and emotional benefits. Take Harley Davidson, for instance. As one of the company’s executive puts it astutely, “What Harley Davidson sells is the ability for a 43-year-old accountant to dress in black leather, ride through small towns and have people be afraid of him.” That’s the expressive benefit: “Be afraid of me. I am a rebel!”
“What Harley Davidson sells is the ability for a 43-year-old accountant to dress in black leather, ride through small towns and have people be afraid of him.”