Brand Management – The 3 Es of Brand Admiration (and How Marketers Can Foster Them)
I am not an energizing person. The color and taste of things scares me a bit; and, frankly, I don’t need more energy than what I get from my morning coffees.
That said, there is something I deeply admire about Red Bull. The company’s content marketing is legendary (and I’m a sucker for amazing content). I love what the brand now stands for: a no-holds-barred approach to sensory stimulation, experiential exploration, and total destruction of the comfort zone.
So when Red Bull launched its famous Stratos Jump campaign in 2012, I was captivated.
Again, I’ve never had more than one sip of Red Bull, and I doubt I’ll ever be a loyal customer, but I’ve spent hours on the microsite that Red Bull has created for Stratospheric Freefall of 128,000 feet from Felix Baumgartner. I shared it with anyone who wanted to listen. If you haven’t seen the jump, take a few minutes to check it out. I guess it will leave you confused (who’s crazy enough to do that?!) – and inspired.
In fact, just writing about it now makes my blood run. If someone is willing to jump from 128,000 feet or jump between two moving planes (another famous Red Bull stunt), then what am I doing sitting at a desk? ! (Go to Amazon, search “IronMan training book”, add to cart.)
The Impact of Empowerment, Incentive, and Enrichment on Brand Admiration
Again, I am not – and will not suddenly become – a big fan of Red Bull’s packaged goods. However, I am a big fan of the brand. I talk about it, write about it, and engage with it (mostly via Red Bull media ownership, Red Bull Media House). I can’t say if this fandom has inspired other people to buy an energy drink, but I can say that if the content team at Red Bull offered me a job, I would definitely take it.
So how did Red Bull manage to turn a non-customer like me into a passionate brand advocate?
According to a new book titled Brand Admiration: Building a Business People Love by branding experts C. Whan Park, Deborah MacInnis and Andreas Eisingerich, it has a lot to do with targeted branding that promotes three key sentiments:
- Authorization, by providing emotional experiences that provide functional enjoyment and foster feelings of empowerment. Red Bull is a prime example, but so is the United States Marine Corps. For Marines advocates, the combination of history, tradition and brand exclusivity gives them a purpose. They work with the Marines for a greater cause and to earn something valuable in return.
- Seduction, providing sensory or cognitive stimulation or creating heart-warming experiences. Disney World is a perfect example. If you’ve taken kids to a Disney park and witnessed joy in its purest, purest form, you understand.
- Enrichment, providing intangible pleasure or promoting feelings of inspiration. A prime example is Under Armour’s “Rule Yourself” campaign, which featured inspirational videos and blog posts from some of the world’s greatest athletes.
Activation. Seduction. Enrichment. These three Es are the very foundation of the brand’s admiration.
Successful brands aren’t just interested in selling a product. Rather, their strategies are about giving people exactly what they need (empowerment), in a fun, interesting, or emotionally involving way (incentive), while making them feel good about themselves (enrichment).
How B2C and B2B marketers can foster the 3 Es
Although the examples in this article refer to business-to-business ventures, it should be noted that empowerment, enticement, and enrichment are also essential to building an admired B2B brand. Each plays a role in a person’s experience with a brand, and research suggests that “experience” plays a very big role in KPIs such as customer acquisition and employee retention.
So it’s no surprise that a growing majority of B2B marketers are interested in optimizing that experience. A recent survey of experienced marketers at 250 global B2B companies found that 58% are focused on what they call “value marketing”, the process of selling information and experience , rather than product features or benefits. This is a sharp increase from the 39% reported in the previous year’s study.
Now for the million dollar question: if these three E’s are so important to any brand in any industry, how exactly should they be encouraged? Here are some tips to help you get started:
- To allow your audience, focus on the things you can do to solve a person’s functional problems by making them feel safe, conserving resources, or empowering them. Enabling can include improving product reliability and versatility, reducing mental and physical barriers, or creating opportunities to save time and money.
- To seduce your audience, investing in activities that create experiential pleasure by tapping into someone’s sensory or cognitive senses. For marketers, this means investing in activities that evoke emotions, such as humor, empathy or nostalgia. If you do this successfully, people will feel a deeper connection to your brand and want to engage with it more often.
- To enrich your audience, explore how your brand could improve someone’s life in an intangible way. The simplest approach is to be very clear about how your values align with your audience’s aspirations. When people feel a deep sense of self-confirmation and social acceptance by associating with your brand, a direct link to brand advocacy and loyalty is created.
Of course, these tips only scratch the surface.
Brands like Red Bull, Virgin America, Amazon, and Caterpillar (and even smaller ones like FreshBooks and Buffer) haven’t created beloved brands by pulling a few levers or implementing a handful of “hacks.” Instead, their success was built on a diligent, focused, and strategic focus on a fairly simple goal: to create a brand that people genuinely love, trust, and respect.
Judging by the growth of these companies and the admiration that people – customers, employees, partners and fans – have for them, the rewards of these efforts have certainly justified the investment.
If you want to learn more about brand admiration, download the white paper “Brand Admiration: Your Secret Ingredient for Building Brand Equity”.
Articles in this series:
- Brand Admiration: Why Some Brands Are Unconditionally Loved (And What You Can Learn From Them)
- Brand Admiration and the Power of Love: Build a Brand People Love
- Is your brand reliable? Here’s what happens when it is – and isn’t
- Brand Admiration and the Value of Respect: How to Create a Revered Brand
- Brand Admiration: Three Decisive Benefits of Being Admired
- The Saving Grace of Brand Admiration: 3 Companies, 3 Mistakes, 3 Different Outcomes
- The 3 Es of Brand Admiration (and How Marketers Can Foster Them)