In the fast-paced, constantly-changing world of the modern marketplace, brands must adapt or perish—strategies, methods, and techniques must evolve to remain effective and relevant. Are you using yesterday’s thinking for tomorrow’s challenges?
Brand Intimacy details ways to build better marketing through the cultivation of emotional connections between brand and consumer. The book provides lessons for marketers and business leaders alike who are seeking to understand these ultimate brand relationships and the opportunities they represent.
Divided into three sections, Brand Intimacy starts with Context and Understanding. This explains today’s marketing landscape, the effects of technology, consumer behaviors and the advancements around decision making. Through research we discovered that people form relationships with brands the same way they develop relationships with other people. This section provides guidance on how to think about complimentary concepts such as loyalty, satisfaction and brand value. We then explore and compare established approaches and methodologies and showcase why intimacy is a compelling new and enhanced opportunity to build your brand or market your business.
The second section, Theory and Model reveals and dimensions the brand intimacy model and dissects it into steps to help you better factor it into your marketing approaches or frameworks. Here you will learn the core concepts and components that are essential to build bonds and the role emotion can play to help you achieve greater customer engagement. You can also review the rankings of the best brands in terms of Brand Intimacy. A summary of our annual research reveals the characteristics of best performers, the most intimate industries, and differences based on geography, age, gender and income. By examining the top intimate brands, we reveal and decode the secrets of the bonds they form with their customers.
The third section is Methods & Practice, this details the economic benefits and advantages of a strategy that factors Brand Intimacy. Intimate brands are proven to outperform the Fortune 500 and Standards and Poors’ index of brands. Intimate brands create more revenue and profit and last longer. Consumers are also willing to pay more for a brand they are more intimate with. Conversely, we also explore a series of brand failures and lessons learned to help you avoid common pitfalls in brand management. We articulate the steps to build a more intimate brand as well as share a glimpse on the future where software will play a more important role in brand building. The book outlines a proprietary digital platform that we use to help manage and enable intimacy through collaboration, simulators and real-time tracking of emotions.
Business and marketing owners face an increasing difficult task to build brands that rise above the clutter, engage more and grow. Brand Intimacy explains how to better measure, build and manage enduring brands. Brands that are built to inspire as well as profit. Written by experienced marketers and backed by extensive research, Brand Intimacy rewrites the rulebook on how to establish and expand your marketing. The book is equal parts theory, research and practice, the result of 7 year journey and a new marketing paradigm for the modern marketer.
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About the Author
Rina Plapler is a Partner at MBLM and has built brands for over 20 years. She leads strategy at MBLM in New York and has held executive positions at FutureBrand and Gormley & Partners. Rina has worked with B2B, B2C and B2G companies and has extensive strategy experience across a variety of industries including financial services, tourism, health care, technology and telecommunications. She was the creator of FutureBrand’s Country Brand Index and MBLM’s Brand Intimacy Study. Rina has degrees from McGill and Harvard Universities.
Read an Excerpt
Why This Book and Why Now?
After more than two decades branding companies, countries and people around the globe, we have realized that growth, in some shape or form, is at the core of all our clients’ needs, and that “brand” could be an extremely effective and powerful tool to facilitate demand. While desire for growth remains constant in today’s increasingly interconnected world, the challenges vary. Take political disruption, which can birth populism and an anti-establishment ethos. This creates a polarized population with highly charged views that can affect trade, supply chain optimization and globalization. There’s also organic growth: for the past decade, countless companies have optimized costs and stripped down any and all aspects of their businesses to the extreme in order to save costs and maximize profits. But what’s next for them? How can they find new growth? We see technology transforming everything we do in our work, at home and at play. Companies face fast-paced cycles of innovation with steep opportunity costs and profound risks that can render them extinct—quickly. Last, demographics are shifting and with them, the familiar associations and behaviors of now-aging boomers are changing. A new demographic is emerging— millennials, an entirely different generation who require new understanding to effectively reach.
What can businesses do to advance? And what role does brand play?
Brand can be a key asset in framing opportunities; however, it requires thinking about brand in a different way than traditional marketers or business schools suggest. It requires a new paradigm designed for today’s times.
How did we arrive at this new way of thinking? We spent nearly a decade conducting qualitative and quantitative research with more than 12,000 consumers in the U.S., Germany, Japan, Mexico and the UAE. We fielded and interpreted over 20,000 qualitative brand stories that comprised 2,000 pages of verbatim responses explaining how individuals form relationships with brands. We turned to quantitative research and, over the course of several years, analyzed 100,000 brand evaluations. Through factor analysis and structural equation modeling, we were able to better understand which levers need to be pulled to build bonds between brand and consumers. We built a data engine to compute, compare and dynamically render rankings, head to head comparisons and detailed brand scores. We have applied our new paradigm to create brands and to reignite established ones. Each year, since 2015, we publish an annual study on intimate brands and their impact.
But let’s take a step back.
We are all shaped by brands, whether we realize it or not.
The process starts in life with toy trucks and princesses and only continues as we age. The cars we drive; the household items we prefer; the food we eat; the clothes we wear; the places we travel; the sports teams we follow; the celebrities we admire; the companies we trust; the politicians we elect—while the average person may not think about these as brand choices, marketers have spent decades working hard to create perceptions and the associations that make us want to try or purchase one brand over another.
Whenever we ask people to share with us the brands they are intimate with, many times they will initially respond with, “None.” But then you start asking them about their car, their camera, their phone, their sneakers, their favorite drink... and all of a sudden, they discover themselves to in fact be passionate advocates for brands they favor.
In other words, we are more attached to brands than we realize.
That is because brands are much more than a name, a logo, or a jingle. Yes, they are business assets that create value for the companies that represent them; and yes, they can be products, services, people, and places; and yes, they can drive demand, command price premiums and increase loyalty. But they’re more than that; or at least they have the potential to be more than that.
So, with so many books out there already that talk about branding, why another one?
It’s simple. We have found that approaches to branding have largely stagnated. Most feature models, structures, and thinking from decades ago. Those ideas were leading and advanced in their day, to be sure; but too many things have changed for these approaches to be relevant, much less cutting edge. Think about it: practically speaking, could you use a computer from the 1980s today? You could probably still benefit from its functionality; however, it would be very limited in what it could do. It would not align with any new software, nor sync with your other devices, and you’d likely have some compatibility problems when sharing files. It is essentially the same principle with marketing. Why use yesterday’s thinking for today’s (or tomorrow’s) challenges?
We now know, without a shadow of a doubt, that people make decisions and process information based on emotion and intuition.
That is relatively new information, which comes from advancements in neuroscience and behavioral science. It’s a far cry from prevailing sentiment that defines us as thoughtful, rational beings; yet most marketers and business leaders have neglected this insight, and continue to ignore the most powerful component of brand building and growth: emotion. Rather, most continue to overestimate the importance of rational, hierarchical-based thinking, founded on what we now know are faulty decision making constructs. In essence, they are misdiagnosing the marketplace and, as a result, are providing the wrong cures.
And we wonder why results don’t change.
As big a topic as emotion is, decision makers are slow to change. The proven and established is safe; the new and daring, a bit more precarious.
So, yes—another book about brand, but not just another book. A book for winning in the marketplace of today. One based on very different thinking. One that represents a new paradigm. One that is dedicated to building bondswith customers. One that translates the academic perspective of intimacy into an instructive and inspiring marketing model for building successful brands. One that is proven to increase growth and profitability.
Welcome to the new world of brand intimacy.
—Excerpt from the Introduction by Mario Natarelli and Rina Plapler
Table of Contents
Introduction: Why This Book And Why Now? viii
1.0 Context & Understanding 1
1.1 The Power of Brands 2
1.2 Paradigm Shift 17
1.3 Approaches and Models 31
1.4 Understanding Intimacy 46
1.5 Discovery 56
2.0 Theory & Model 91
2.1 Definition and Model 92
2.2 Model: Users 96
2.3 Model: Archetypes 98
2.4 Model: Stages 130
2.5 Model: Brand Intimacy Quotient 157
2.6 Model: Rankings 160
3.0 Methods & Practice 173
3.1 Value and Return 174
3.2 Failures, Perspectives and Lessons 182
3.3 Building More Intimate Brands 192
3.4 The Brand Intimacy Platform 200
Conclusion: The Power of Intimate Brands 214
10 Ways to Assess the Intimacy of Your Brand 221
References: Endnotes 232
References: Image Sources 238