A brand is more than a stereotype

We recently met with a prospective client that was referred to us by one of St. Louis area’s talk radio stations. We are always appreciative of the recommendation and referral.

So why were we referred? They were looking for a new direction that was creative but was also thinking about the brand strategy. The problem is that the messages that were being promoted in the past were not consistent with the brand or the actual user experience. So, we have a problem. Actually the brand has a problem.

Their target demographic is men. But in today’s advertising world the way many seem to want to market to men seems to be one of 2 things:

  • Make men look like they can’t accomplish anything on their own and they are incompetent
  • Call out their manliness if they haven’t wrestled and killed a 200lb tiger.

The reality is while men have many dreams, whether that is to go mountain climbing or sky diving, many men also savor the time with their kids. I think of the Craftsman tool ads that show the son handing their dad a tool while working on a project. This is the type of emotional connection that can really appeal to men. Most men savor the little time they have to work on a project with their dad. This is a positive emotional connection that can be tapped into to create loyalty.

The reality is this brand is focused on showing men the way things used to be in a classy, retro way. The goal is for men to get away and relax in a good way, such as a nice private country club. But the previous advertising said the complete opposite.

How would an ad feel with a father and son spending time with the product and service together? Branding is about appealing to emotions. While the intention of these videos and ads was to appeal to men, I think it actually reflects in a negative manner on the product and appeals to a negative emotion.

The videos and ads that were created made it seem as though you did anything with the women in your life you were not a man. In my world, most men would do anything for the women in their life. Does that make them any less of a man?

The problem these videos create is that it makes it seem like there is a war between men and women. 80 percent of men want to live their lives their way and not be stereotyped as a buffoon or as prize fighter.

In the end when marketing, always map your campaign back to the brand strategy to keep things focused and avoid confusing your customer. If you don’t have an overall brand strategy then now is the time to put one in place. Make your advertising dollars more effective.

If you would like to know more about emotional branding, check out Daryl Travis’ great book, Emotional Branding: How Successful Brands Gain the Irrational Edge.

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