As I continue to dive into the world of advertising, branding and public relations, I have found myself continually analyzing the motives behind choices that consumers make. What makes us support certain brands? What turns us away from other brands? To further investigate the answers to these, and so many other questions, I began by thinking about my relationship with the brands that I shop from; where do I fit into this whole consumer and brand equation?
Almost every situation we are in or any decision we make is often influenced, at least in part, by relatability. Whether it’s choosing friends, movies or entertainment, they all have something to do with how we can relate to those people, places or activities. Personally, I relate most to brands that go above and beyond just promoting their products. Some of my favorite places to shop from are boutiques that I follow in social media that post daily motivational quote, bible verses, or witty memes. Posting things like this establishes a connection with followers that goes past just trying to make sales- these posts make them seem like more of a person rather than a company. A specific brand that I connect with is Aerie®. The undergarment and sleepwear brand has decided to nix retouching; they use actual pictures of actual women to promote their products. Doing this is a risk as Aerie certainly has many competitors, like Victoria’s Secret®, that focus on perfection. While I enjoy both stores, I definitely relate more to a company that chooses to let the beauty of their models shine through without making changes to their bodies. It’s easier to see myself in a real person than a retouched model.
Consumers have a plethora of options when it comes to making purchases, so the most important focus for any brand has to be their target consumer. But an important thing to remember is that they are not just consumers; they are human beings that have connections, feelings and hopes about and for certain brands. So, putting a couple of these things together, it seems as though the real “formula” for being successful with your brand lies within relatability itself. How does a brand become relatable? I would argue that it is all about learning to connect with your consumer, and not focusing on connecting with all consumers. Your brand can be likeable without being liked by everyone.
A certain consumer may dislike something that your brand or company stands for, and while this seems like a loss, let’s think about it from another angle. Do you really want those people to be the people that support your brand anyways? Of course from a fiscal standpoint, the easy answer is yes, but in terms of creating a relatable and authentic brand, the consumers you want building up that brand should be ones sharing interests and values with it.
Focusing too much on likability and trying to please all types of consumers can result in a company losing its authenticity, and therefore, their connection with their ideal consumer. There are competing brands all around us that still remain successful at least partially because of their commitment to their unique brand. For example, Under Armor® and Nike® both have a similar consumer base, but if you ask around, there will undoubtedly be consumers who advocate for one brand over the other. While this advocacy could be due to many factors, one is surely the connection the consumer feels to the brand; whether it is from their slogan, best-selling products, celebrity promotions, ad campaigns, or what they generally stand for as a company. Find the human connection that works for your brand and hold true to that.