In its shortest form, the main idea is ’emotional branding’. Instead of talking about your product, why don’t you talk about what your product means to people? Why don’t you look for ways to create a sense of belonging? It is important to take a look at why and how this movement towards a spiritual branding started. I had a similar discussion with a marketing professional friend of mine. We are trying to brand products/people/regions/places/nations, but what is the next step? What will happen when, in my case, all the nations in the world have prominent branding campaigns and images? How can we better ‘brand’?
Kevin Roberts is right when he says everything works for branding right now (and when he says beer tastes good unless you live in America). There are not tangible differences between place branding campaigns. Recently we did a study on analyzing the main themes of six different place branding campaigns. Although these destinations were different in terms of geography, culture, and economy; their branding campaigns revolved around similar promises (authentic, safe, unique, hospitable, historic & modern etc). As Anholt’s dominant nation branding model shows, there are not many different promises. In other words, if you want to compete with other nations for limited sources (let it be tourism, investment, political influence), you might resort to emotional branding.
Naomi Klein practically summarizes her book, No Logo, when she talks about super/mega brands. Corporations focus more on branding than on product. Similarly, Douglas Atkin supports the idea that branding is about creating a meaning system or an identity for the product. Hence, place/nation branding might be considered as being about creating a sense of belonging, rather than arousing interest among target audiences or promoting some aspects of a place/nation. If you can create a sense of belonging, you are more likely to better ‘brand’ your place.
I am not trying to create new paradigms with my posts on this blog. What I humbly try to do is to underline some important concepts which are less popular. Emotion branding is again not a novelty. It has been used by a few campaigns. The best examples that came up to my mind were Aruba – 90,000 Friends You Haven’t Met Yet and I amsterdam. Both campaigns focus on creating a community around their places. You visit Aruba, because, well because you belong there. You have friends waiting for you. The major parts of the branding campaign are based on local people, and visitors. Amsterdam, on the other hand, builds up its campaign on “pride, confidence, and dedication”.
In short, everything is branded. All communication channels, media are clogged by similar branding messages. So why don’t you go ahead and try to create a sense of belonging and a community pride for your product/place/person/region/city/nation?