Sunday, December 27, 2015

Brands and Magnets – Polarize to Mobilize

One of the most valued asset of an organization is the brand. Recent literature in branding points to the brand playing the role of a social actor capable of forming intimate relationships with its customers. One of the biggest challenges for a brand is in building loyalty (or reducing infidelity). Organizations globally spend billions of dollars annually in building a stronger brand. However most brands  do not take a stance, do not polarize.

Magnets polarize and attract. Their invisible field attracts all magnetic materials (the target group). For a brand this means taking a stance, creating not just a pole but a strong one. Brand, the social actor should have a strong point of view to attract. The organization should be polarized to internalize this point of view and communicate it through every touch point. One of the best examples is Apple. Its community, a creation of this strong point of view has been loyal. Research on an abandoned Apple Newton community (Muñiz Jr. & Schau, 2005) found supernatural, religious, and magical motifs common in the narratives of the Newton community, including the miraculous performance and survival of the brand, as well as the return of the brand creator. These motifs invested the brand with powerful meanings and perpetuated the brand and the community, its values, and its beliefs. These motifs also reflected and facilitated the many transformative and emancipatory aspects of consuming this brand.

The strong brand, a magnet can polarize the elements in its field, which can further increase the reach of the field thus building the community around the brand. In the digital age this means reaching out to more people with a lower media investment.

A strong field however will not just seduce and attract but shall repel as well. The repelled audience will directly benefit your competition (if it’s smart enough). Research also points to a significantly higher presence of anti-brand sites for stronger brands (Kucuk, 2008). This makes it important to choose the stance of the brand and its personality. The top brand will be the one with not just the stronger field but the field that attracts more people than it repels. Political parties function in a very similar manner. They take a stance, polarize and mobilize people. The one with a stronger field appealing to a larger audience wins.

Most strong leaders too have a very strong point of view (especially on issues that matter to their target audience). They act as a powerful brand, a magnet that attracts people. They polarize, influence thought and take forward masses of people in one direction.