Not, I own a Mac or even I love my Mac, but I AM a Mac! The impact of the simple replacement of a verb has dramatic results in your marketing strategy. Brand identification not only builds strong loyalty to the brand, but encourages users to become brand cheerleaders — advocating and defending the brand and celebrating its dominance over the competition.
Brand Identification and the Construction of Self
We use the people and things we surround ourselves with as a way of defining who we are. Look around you right now and you’ll see elements reflecting your construction of self — photos of your family, maybe a potted plant, a few treasured possessions. The clothes you wear, how you style your hair, whether you have facial hair (and if you’re a woman with facial hair that’s a different story).
Look at Penelope, from Criminal Minds. She surrounds herself with quirky clothes, those pens topped with silk flowers or novelty figures, and little stuffed things. It defines her as a highly intelligent, socially-awkward Geek.
I did a study on the construction of self where I interviewed people who’d lost everything in a fire — no, I wasn’t one of those insensitive reporters interviewing folks in front of their smoldering home. What we found is that these people felt totally invisible, like they didn’t exist. The ones who build a new “self” recovered over a few months, while those who were too devastated to reconstruct themselves didn’t. In one case, the person withered away and died a few months after the fire.
That’s how important our image of ourselves is. For some, loosing everything was actually cathartic as it allowed the person to construct a different “self” than what they’d been before since they were no longer tied to the things that made them who they were. This is why couples destroy mementos of themselves as a couple when they split and children get rid of their toys when they reach an age where they consider themselves adults (so beware of the adult hanging on to their toys because they’re telling you they haven’t grown up yet).
So, what does construction of self have to do with marketing.
Construction of self is a major force determining what we buy. Brand identification relies on the firm creating a distinct brand personality that consumers want incorporate in constructing themselves. Brand identification then drives loyalty and word of mouth.
Creating a brand personality
1. Use celebrities
This creates a halo effect where the personality of the individual transfers to the brand. Use Kim Kardashian as your spokesperson and you create a personality that is attractive, affluent, popular, and carefree. Use Bill Gates and your brand personality is intelligent, successful, compassionate.
2. Use symbols
Symbols also create a brand personality. That’s why insurance companies use images like the Rock of Gibraltar and it implies strength and solidity for a product that’s pretty intangible.
3. Use advertising messaging
And this is where Apple comes in. They’ve used their messaging (as well as other marketing elements such as product development) to create an image of risk taking, innovation, coolness, and independence. Their famous commercial 1984 commercial introducing the new Macintosh firmly established the image of the company as a rebel.
Brand Personality = Brand Identification
If you’ve established a brand personality that resonates with consumers, they’ll identify with it, support it, defend it, spread the word about it, and celebrate its achievements; developing a customer relationship that’s difficult to break.