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How brands ignite desire 1

HOW BRANDS IGNITE DESIRE: IDENTIFYING BRAND APPEAL THROUGH THE ANALYSIS OF HUMAN DRIVES

Kim Cramer, BR-ND Positioneringsgroep, The Netherlands Alexander Koene, BR-ND Positioneringsgroep, The Netherlands ABSTRACT This study investigates why some brands are more successful in creating preference than others. It focuses on the phenomenon of brand appeal, which - contrary to rational considerations like awareness and knowledge - has to do with deeper human emotions, motivations and aspirations. Through literature study, the authors identified twenty-four human drive domains. Brands which target (specific clusters of) these drive domains are considered more appealing than brands that do not. Brands from various product categories are being profiled to identify the relationship between clusters of drive domains and brand appeal. Also the correlation between individual ‘drive-profile’ and brand appeal is studied. Preliminary results show that such relationships exist. INTRODUCTION Brands, defined as associative networks in the human brain, are intriguing phenomena. They are able to transform products and services into unique and relevant things. Not all brands succeed in meeting this objective; some brands seem to ‘feel’ better than others. Despite a substantive amount of research (Aaker, 1996; Fournier, 1994, Patterson, 1999; Tolboom, 2004), limited insight exists into how brands ignite desire. It is known that brand preference is related to factors like positioning, price perception, availability, social influences and personal involvement (Oakenfull, Blair, Gelb, & Dacin, 2000; Kapferer, 1996; Timmerman, 2001). However, why some brands simply ‘have it’, and others do not, is not yet clearly understood. In branding theory, authors often refer to three basic functions of brands (Keller, 1998; Ries & Trout, 1986). First, and most obviously, brands help us recognizing things. Brands function as virtual sign posts in our brain; they flag the type of product or service. One knows, for example, that Nike and Adidas are lifestyle sporting goods, and that Coca Cola and Sprite are beverages. Second, brands steer our expectations. One assumes that branded products and services offer a consistent experience. For example, people expect McDonalds to offer the same quality and service all around the world, and that Starbucks coffee tastes the same in every outlet. Third, brands evoke emotional responses. For example, Rolex triggers associations related to status and ambition and Swatch to fun, and creativity. In this study, this third function of brands, the capacity to evoke emotional response, is further examined. Ironically, this function that is least known about, presents the single, most powerful way to relevantly distinguish a brand from the competition. THEORY AND HYPOTHESES Knowledge about the relationship between emotional response and brand appeal significantly improves strategic brand development. In the practice of branding, things like status, creativity, and individuality are often referred to as brand values. Such brand values are


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mostly intuitively and to some extent randomly chosen by brand managers and their advisors, simply because they ‘feel’ good and somehow seem to fit. Our view is that brands don’t have values. However, what brands can do is ‘match’ the things people find important in their lives. Human emotions, motivations, and aspirations - also called drive domains - are the foundation upon which thought processes, decisions and actions are based (Weeks & Williams, 2007). Work done by neuroscientists, such as Damasio (1994), has helped us develop a better understanding of how such drives play a central role in human decision making. According to Weeks and Williams (2007), decision making about brands centers on one question: how will this make me feel? Consequently we should not concentrate on socalled brand values, but on emotional domains that are activated by a brand. It is not just about what the brand represents (e.g. sexiness), but about what is internalized as a desired feeling linked to the brand (feeling sexy when using it). This leads to following two hypotheses. H1: The stronger a brand relates to drive domains, the higher the brand appeal. H2: The stronger the match between brand drive profile and personal drive profile, the higher the brand appeal. It is our assumption that highly appealing brands have a drive profile based on a certain combination of several drive domains. These combinations of drive domains are being referred to as ‘drive cocktails’ or ‘archetypes’ (Mark & Pearson, 2001). Such appealing brands can even trigger combinations of drive domains. Think of the Volvo car brand which successfully combines drives like family care with safety and acknowledgement or status. This leads to our third hypothesis. H3: Brand appeal increases if specific combinations of drive domains are being triggered. It is also our assumption that certain archetypes are highly appealing and universally interesting to homo sapiens. These archetypes, like the Hero, the Lover, the Explorer or the Samaritan are not exclusive to brands but commonly found in the arts, fables, and religion (Mark & Pearson, 2001). Therefore, we believe that such archetypes are not category specific but universal in meaning, leading to our fourth hypothesis. H4: Archetypes, and the underlying drive domains, are not category specific but universal. METHOD Three methods were applied to investigate the hypotheses. First, an extensive literature study was conducted to identify human drives. After all, the hypothesis that the stronger a brand relates to drive domains, the higher the brand appeal (H1), brings about the question: what are human drives? We define human drives as the things that people find important in life. Therefore, we investigated literature in the fields of philosophy, psychology, sociology, biology, and neurology, and specifically examined studies that have attempted to list human motivations, drives, aspirations, urges, emotions and feelings. Comparing the outcomes of these studies, we listed unique as well as overlapping drives. We then integrated the overlapping drives and developed a new list of human drives which we presented to scientific experts in the fields of branding, emotions, and human values. This led to a framework of 23+1 drive domains (Figure 1). The second method was translating the framework of 23+1 drive domains into a consumer research tool. Since people are often not aware of what they find important, and find it hard to


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think and talk about it (Frijda, 1986; Weeks & Williams, 2007), we visualized the 23+1 drive domains by creating visual-verbal stimuli (Figure 2). Visual information is processed more easily, more rapidly, and less rationally (Franzen & Bouwman, 1999; Mirzoeff, 1999). These stimuli, each consisting of four pictures and two words, represent the world of emotions, motivations and values behind the drive domains. In order to make sure that correct associations are being triggered, the stimuli were validated extensively. First, we asked twenty experts (people who work with text and/or visuals on a daily basis, like copywriters, architects, and designers) to judge the stimuli. They judged the visuals, then the words and finally the combination of visuals and words, by giving their associations with the stimuli and offering suggestions for improvement. Second, after improvement of the stimuli on the basis of the experts’ judgments, we asked thirty-two non-experts to freely associate on the basis of the visuals (without the words). The associations given were highly in line with the desired associations. We also asked respondents to match the twenty-four visuals with the twentyfour word-pairs. This assignment was done almost perfectly (> 90% match). After improving the stimuli and checking them once more in a smaller setting, stimuli (referred to as ‘drivograms’) were finalized. A quantitative study was conducted as a third method to empirically investigate the relationships suggested in the hypotheses. Through an online questionnaire, respondents were asked to indicate which drive domains were triggered by brands in various product categories. Respondents also were asked to what degree they find these brands appealing. Further, they were asked what they find important in life, by indicating the level of importance for each of the drive domains. This quantitative study was preceded by a pilot study, in which eighteen brands in two product categories (coffee and fashion) were investigated, with the purpose to establish the validity and feasibility of the chosen research method. RESULTS Famous theories on human drives of for example Freud, Jung, and Maslow provoke significant resistance by contemporary scientists as they lack a solid empirical base. Research by scientists like Schwartz (1994), Reiss and Haverkamp (2000), Oppenhuisen (2000), and Chiarelli (2003) has provided more valid and reliable findings. On the basis of an analysis of their (and others’) work, we constructed the framework of 23+1 drive domains set out in Figure 1. All of these drive domains are to a certain degree important for all human beings. They must be seen as coping strategies enabling people to pursue an integrated approach in order to a) secure the species by reproduction b) minimize feelings of inferiority and c) maximize feelings of satisfaction. Interrelated, these strategies ultimately lead to an individually perceived degree of contentment. Although some of the drive domains in this framework, and also in day-to-day life, seem closely related (for example, power, materialism, and status) at this stage we deliberately have not grouped domains in fixed clusters. Preliminary results of the quantitative pilot show that brands indeed have varying levels of brand appeal and varying drive profiles. These results also indicate a relation between brand appeal and strength of certain drive domains, which supports H1. As the data collection of the quantitative study is in progress at this moment, we cannot present the final results in this abstract. When the planning and implementation of this study goes according to plan, further results and conclusions will be presented at the ICORIA Conference in June.


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REFERENCES Aaker, D.A.A. (1996). Building strong brands. New York: Free Press. Damasio, A.R. (1994). Descartes' Error: Emotion, Reason, and the Human Brain. New York: HarperCollins Publishers. Duncan, T., & Moriarty, S. (1997). Driving Brand Value. New York: McGraw Hill. Dru, J.M. (1996). Disruption: Overturning conventions and shaking up the marketplace. New York: John Wiley and Sons, Inc. Fournier, S. (1994). A consumer-brand relationship framework for strategic brand management. Florida: University of Florida. Franzen, M.P., & Bouwman, M. (1999). De mentale wereld van merken. Alphen a/d Rijn: Samson. Nico H. Frijda (1986). The Emotions: Studies in Emotion and Social Interaction. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Kapferer, J. (1994). Strategic brand management. New York: The Free Press. Keller, K.L. (1998). Strategic brand management: Building, measuring and managing brand equity. New Jersey: Prentice-Hall. Mark, M., & Pearson, C.S. (2001). The hero and the outlaw: Building extraordinary brands through the power of archetypes. New York: McGrawHill. Mirzoeff, N. (1999). An introduction to visual culture. New York: Routeledge. Oakenfull, G., Blair, E., Gelb, B., & Dacin, P. (2000). Measuring brand meaning. Journal of Advertising Research, 40(October), 43-53. Oppenhuisen, J. (2000). Een schaap in de bus? Een onderzoek naar de waarden van de Nederlander. Amsterdam: SWOCC. Patterson, M. (1999). Re-appraising the concept of brand image. The Journal of Brand Management, 6(6), 409-426. Ries, A., & Trout, J. (1986). Positioning: The battle for your mind. New York: Warner Books. Schwartz, S,H. (1994). Are there universal aspects in the structure and content of human values? Journal of Social Issues, 50, 19-45. Timmerman, E.M. (2001). Researching brand images: The nature and activation of brand representations in memory. Amsterdam: SWOCC. Tolboom, M. (2004). Een merk als vriend? De relatiemetafoor toegepast op consument en merk. Amsterdam: SWOCC. Weeks, M., & Williams, C. (2007). Discovering the Feeling: Applying Neuroscience to Marketing. www.adde-value.com.


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Figure 1. Framework of Drive Domains

Drivograms Figure 2. Visual-verbal stimuli (so called Drivograms)

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