Brand – maybe even more important than you think

By Chris Ilcin, Account Superintendent, Sonnhalter

I’m addicted to TEDTalks. If you don’t know what they are, here’s a primer from their website.

“TED is a nonprofit devoted to spreading ideas, usually in the form of short, powerful talks (18 minutes or less). TED began in 1984 as a conference where Technology, Entertainment and Design converged, and today covers almost all topics — from science to business to global issues — in more than 100 languages. Meanwhile, independently run TEDx events help share ideas in communities around the world.”

Part of this initiative is a weekly radio program that takes a look at a theme through insights from several TEDTalks, called the TED Radio Hour.

452_5472026They recently had an episode dedicated to Value, Brand and how our brains process the “worth” of something. Turns out, it’s all way more subjective that you may think.

Every day you assign value to a thousand things without ever thinking about it. How? What biases come into play, and what can nudge those biases so much that you notice that you’re being manipulated? And can you even use that realization to your benefit?

And that’s the line great content marketing should straddle. Yes, at the end of the day you are trying to push the customer towards your product, and a consumer should realize that as well. But if the content itself still provides useful information, or is packaged in a way that acknowledges that transaction, it can still be beneficial.

Perhaps that’s a point best made by the first talk. Morgan Spurlock, at the end of his talk about the importance of transparency, reveals that his entire talk was sponsored by a company.

Another speaker addresses the tricky nature of “Value” and how we attribute it to products and experiences. And it turns out that the story we can apply to a product, its origin, history, a personal connection, a sense of exclusivity or a hundred other variables, is almost as important as the actual utility of the product.

As an example, test subjects in an MRI machine were all given the same wine to sip while being scanned. They were also given fake information leading some to think they were sipping a cheap wine, some an expensive one. Those who thought they were drinking expensive wine had more activity in the pleasure center of their brain than those, drinking the SAME EXACT WINE, who were led to think their wine was cheaper.

It wasn’t a psychological difference, but an actual physical reaction. All because of the perceived value. That’s why brand building and equity are so important to you and your business.

So what’s a marketer to do?

One definite lesson is that it’s not critical to only market on price as a value point. Instead, a successful campaign should appeal to those other variables: the history behind the product, the people who make it, the time and effort that went into its development, the people who use it. Appeal to the customers’ aspirational nature, and the value proposition will (subconsciously) tag along.

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