As a kid, I found I was affected by commercials for certain brands. For some reason, I found myself singing the old jingle for Coca-Cola ("I'd like to teach the world to sing...") while diving off rocks in our favourite Quebec lake. The words in that ad had the ability to move me in a way that made me feel alive, as if the world I was in at the time really was "the real thing."
When I was sick and my Mom offered me Campbell's chicken soup, I knew that the brand would "take care" of me and I would be feeling well again soon. The soup also tasted good...just like the old slogan said it would.."M'm! M'm! Good."
To this day, when I hear the old jingle for Coke or see an ad for Campbell's soup, it transports me to another place and time - just for an instant. Now that's brand recognition.
In his book "The Brand You 50", Tom Peters quotes Scott Bedbury. Bedbury, a senior ad and marketing executive, is best known for his work on brand development for Nike and Starbucks. He suggests that the ultimate value of brand is a result of how we experience it.
To Bedbury "A great brand taps into emotions...Emotions drive most, if not all, of our decisions. A brand reaches out with a powerful connecting experience. It's an emotional connecting point that transcends the product...A great brand is a story that's never completely told. A brand is a metaphorical story that's evolving all the time...Stories create the emotional context people need to locate themselves in a larger experience."
Marshall McLuhan may have agreed. In the book "Marshall McLuhan and Virtuality", Christopher Horrocks states that the concept of immersion applies to McLuhan's observation that "electric media" transport us instantly wherever we choose. McLuhan's work suggests that it's not the type of media that matters, but the effect the medium has ON us, that causes us to react a certain way. Just how we react to certain media provides clues for marketers as to how to create engaging experiences.
This whole idea of being "immersed" in an experience has been capitalized on by Hollywood throughout the ages. How many times do we "lose ourselves" in a movie, only to feel that we're being transported to another place and time?
What does all this mean for brand marketers? It means that when you create a brand, or design a campaign to advertise a brand, give us something interesting and real. Tell us a story - use emotional appeal so we can connect a positive experience with your brand. Make it memorable. Appeal to our senses and show how others like myself have used the product to escape everyday life - if only for a moment.