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The Passion of Branding
By: Andrew Davis
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Last week I wrote an article called “A Lesson in Building Brands from the Masters of Advertising,” which offered insight into branding from the longtime legends of the advertising world. In short, the article concluded that the core of branding was making people passionate about brands.
However, what the article didn’t include was “how” this could work for any brand, not just the most flashy, or cutting-edge.
Taking a look at some of the strongest, most culturally imbued brands, passion is always present. Apple consumers stick the logo on their car. Harley Riders have the logo tattooed on their arm. Gmail users laugh at those who still use Hotmail or Yahoo. Nike created an entirely new culture of fitness based around its products.
Passion drives these products. And with that passion comes a nearly unbreakable brand loyalty.
Yet, every brand has the potential to inspire this level of passion. Sure, a local restaurant has little chance of becoming the next Olive Garden, but it doesn’t mean that it can’t come to be one of feature restaurants of the area. It’s all about finding that hook into a consumer’s mind, and getting them excited about what the brand is doing. Then, it’s not just about the logotype, or even the taste of the food. It’s the experience the consumer has when interacting with the brand.
Apple may not make the highest quality product, and Harley Davidson motorcycles may not be the best value — but the experience of joining that brand community is more important than anything else. As the 1987 Harley Davidson ad from Carmichael Lynch asks, "When was the last time you felt this strongly about anything?"
But what is that hook? It’s simple. It’s whatever separates your brand from the competitors. It’s called the unique selling point, or point of differentiation, or value proposition. It’s the element of the brand that keeps people coming back to it rather than opting for a competitor.
For a restaurant, it may be the setting and atmosphere, which always ensures for a romantic evening so it becomes the go-to place for couples looking to celebrate their love. Or, for a coffee shop, it may be large tables where groups can always count on ample space to work and collaborate. For a pen, it may be the richness of the ink.
Look for what in your brand creates an experience that consumers can’t find anywhere else. It’s there. And, if it’s not, create it.
People can get excited about anything. Make them excited about your brand. Make them want to be a part of your brand community.


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About the Author
Andrew Davis is a Charleston, SC-based creative services consultant to small businesses and non-profits. Follow him on Twitter here.
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