The Appeal of a Brand



brand appealAppeal. A simple word of sorts that has different meanings in different instances however in the broad scope it is asking people to take a look at us and do something. In the courts we have the right to ask the Appellate Court to take a close look at the decision of the lower court and either reverse or affirm the ruling. We plea with people to take action and donate, keep the peace during times of unrest and last, let’s not forget the attraction that comes with appeal. All brands have some sort of appeal to them or they would be out of business. A launch of something new, new packaging, a new ad, coupon, etc, they are asking us to take a look and see if it interests us or really, if we establish some sort of connection to the brand through what they are telling/showing us.

Appeal of a Brand

Not every brand is sexy or cool. This we know and when Chris Brogan was talking about mayo and how it is not cool, it got me thinking. While it is not cool, a certain brand appeals to us, generally in food by taste and sometimes emotionally (for more on that, see my comment on Chris’ blog about by mayo experience). We have to like something about the brand in order to buy it. There has to be an attraction to Brand A over Brand B. How deep rooted that attraction is, is determined by the emotional connection we have to it. The connection can be influenced by outside sources like the amount of money we have to spend, the availability of the product and even the time we have to make the purchase. The outside sources play a major role in the emotional connections we have to our brands and how we manage that connection.

We make the ultimate decision to buy the brands we buy however, we know that the brands steer us to them. They want us to notice them so that we can develop a positive brand image and have no hesitancy on grabbing them off the shelf or adding it to our cart.  How much we listen to them or pay attention to them is where their appeal is the most crucial. We have to believe what they are saying, we have to look at their packaging and either like it or recognize it before we will buy. Their entire presentation to us has to be attractive and have us develop a connection to it. A connection that has to continue to grow to create brand loyalty. A weak connection is opportunity for another brand to come on in and sweep them off their feet.

The Laws of Attraction

The laws of attraction is not actually what really comes to mind first when we think about attractions. The laws of attraction are a mindset, think it and it will happen. In Napoleon Hill’s Think and Grow Rich (affiliate link), he talks about how we control our mind to achieve the success we want. For a brand, they want to control our mind to get us to listen to only them by ignoring the rest. Their overall success is determined by the success rate in which they achieve this feat. They have to be sure that there is a need/want/desire for their offering, that their product doesn’t suck and that their introduction to the marketplace is well received. The well received is teh positive brand image and the emotional connection. That is a lot for a brand to have to achieve however it happens every single day with each beep of the scanner on the cash registers.

How a Brand is Attractive

Every single brand out there is attractive to someone. It has to be or it will fail. The attraction here is not much different from when you see that one person standing across the room and you get butterflies in your stomach. A can of baked beans does not give you butterflies in your stomach, but it gives you a taste in your mouth when you grab the can off the shelf. The label has to be pleasing to the eye differentiate but also to lure people in. If packaging did not matter, every single product would be in brown paper/cardboard with the brand name and what it is on the front in black letters. The colors they choose, the font, the layout, the photos, they all matter. We saw this in action with the old/new back  to the old Gap logo.

The attraction is not only to the packaging. It is to what is inside as well. The labels can be gorgeous but if what is inside is faulty then the entire offering becomes very unattractive quickly. It has to produce continually and also be aligned with our values. If a brand tweets, supports or does something that we do not like or is not aligned with what we believe, we abandon it. The initial attraction is not enough. The brand has to sustain the attraction over time. Even for us loyalists, we have to continue to be attracted or we will assume the risk and purchase something else.

Who the Brand Attracts

Brands strategically plan to target a specific market. They go to where they are, try and become them so they can talk directly to them in a non-intrusive way. When all goes well, they reap the rewards of new customers. However, sometimes we know they get some unwanted guests shall we say that come in drones to let the brand know what they think of the brand overall and also the product/offering. Many times they may never would have been customers and certainly will not now but they need to have their voices heard and this can be very damaging to the brand.

What about what happens when a part of the intended audience is not attracted? This happened with the new VW Beetle a few years ago. The beloved Beetle was back after 19 years! One would have expected there to be a waiting list but it took a turn that was not expected. It was too feminine. Beettlemania was not revived. The men were not buying which caused Beetle to once again be squooshed in 2009. Now a few years later, with a few redesigns it will be unveiled again but this time with more of a masculine side. According to David Kiley at AOL Autos in his interview with Tim Ellis, Volkswagen Marketing Chief:

The design, while unmistakably a Beetle, is sleeker and a bit more muscular; less soft looking than its predecessor. Even tuners, the shops that accessorize cars with special wheels, spoilers and body kits have told VW they believe the new design has many more possibilities for attracting men, and their customers, than the previous model.

Looks the same to me but then again what do I know? I am not their target market and cannot tell the difference in cars from year to year unless it is a complete overhaul.

It is not easy being a brand. Not everyone will like us, one wrong move and we go from best seller to liquidation and while we think  we have covered all bases, we know that sometimes we overlook the most important part. The perception and acceptance of our advances into warming the hearts of the consumers.

photo credit: vignettando con Dario Levi


  • It’s actually scary to think of all the possible variables that can make or destroy *us* as a brand. It’s something to get overly worried about, striving to take into account every little detail, every aspect of it. That’s why you can’t really hope to do everything right immediately.
    What I learnt is, it’s better to start and fail along the road than not to start at all. Even if you’re worried about the perception people will have about your new product, service or whatnot, if you never get it out you’ll never know. If you don’t fail, you won’t improve. If you don’t risk, you won’t reap.

    • Gabriele

      When we take a moment and think about all the variables, we have to wonder how a brand makes it. I am not always on board that we have to fail to succeed however having failed at things, I did learn a lot so if it does happen then there is a lot to be learned. Risk – we have to take the risk as if not we will never know if the product/service even appeals to anyone.

  • Also, I think it is important to keep distinct the notions of “brand”, “logo” and “product”. A brand is almost ineffable – as Ogilvy said it is “The intangible sum of a product’s attributes: its name, packaging, and price, its history, its reputation, and the way it’s advertised.” Therefore you have no brand until you have built up equity through these activities. Then it has the strength of attractiveness. If you are launching a new product with appealling value proposition and packaging, logo, and promotion – then you can create “brand”.

    Those distinctions keep our expectations realistic.

    • Leigh

      Great comment especially talking about Ogilvy. I do support the entire Ogilvy premise however I think there is a bit more to it. Your brand is your message so I think you have a brand the first person accepts your message. Maybe this is that equity as we cannot put a number on that equity as if we say the first buyer. Ok if the first person who sees the message buys then it is immediate. If it is the 1 millionth that sees it that buys then it is impossible to say that there is not a brand there. Some would say it is a bad brand as if i1M people pass it up then there is some problems with the brand.

      I agree with Ogilvy but I think as marketing/advertising and the digital age has evolved, we have to enhance that a bit and take a closer look.