Despite the fact that much of our behaviour is unconscious, it is not arbitrary. Our dreams have substance, they make sense. Our life choices must be justified, our life must add up. Marketing is all about associations, but for associations to work they must be the right ones.
We do not just buy goods or services. By integrating intrinsic functionality with predefined meaning we create and express the master narratives of our lives. Brands are powerful carriers of meaning that allow us to experience our human heritage and put our world in order.
To make a lasting statement of substance, brands have to activate the suitable associations in our mind. As our mind guides thoughts and actions into some paths but not others, certain things and ideas are more suitable for expressing certain qualities than others. Our mind imposes its structure on every stimulus it receives through the continuous interchange between cognitive and emotional processes. Our world is moulded from within.
Eventually, in the concept formation, we create an epitome of the most idiosyncratic characteristics of each object as perceived, and we blur all the rest to fit the main impressions. Thus, we form an object of our dreams, an icon. The most successful brands are those which translate the main natural properties of the products or services they promote into symbolic levels, deeper layers of meaning, and emblematic narratives which express our fundamental human motives in a sufficiently consolidated, clear and distinct way. The meanings upon which we strongly agree with one another are more easily associated with these “formal properties” in the goods we buy. It therefore makes sense that the leading brands tap into the fundamental motives which drive the sales and profits of the category. In doing so, they become the characteristic representatives of their categories.
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