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Manufacturing Indaba 2018

Abnormal (brand) psychology 101

Imagine a car manufacturer brand that made 'no bones' about how it's going to try greedily to do the absolute bare minimum when it comes to carbon emissions tax so that it could maximise the consumer's saving.
Imagine a fast-food chain that claimed that 'morbid obesity' is but a small price to pay for how flippin' tasty its new Whopper is.

Internationally, Skittles are positioned as self-centered and psychotic. Diesel's latest tagline is "be stupid'. AnimalPak supplements reek of obsession and loneliness, and Bentley embraces its position as supremely arrogant.

These ideas are appealing for the same reasons that The Joker is arguably more intriguing than Batman and why Lex Luther is more resourceful and imaginative than Clark Kent.

Local examples

Recently, Cadbury's Bournville Delightfully Dark has been flirting with the dark side of the moon in its latest relaunch campaign, linking the not-too-bitter, not-too-sweet nature of Bournville chocolate, with the delightful exposure of women's not-so-wholesome fantasies.

Digitally speaking, the Internet is a virtual cesspool of dark brand inspiration, so one need not struggle for inspiration.

*rubs hands together*

Sloggi's new campaign idea is "feeling good's official underwear"; it's admirable the way it has owned an emotion.

But brands that dare to tap into harsher emotions may rise above the clutter to even greater effect. Negative emotions are so underused in advertising. Here are some ideas for some 'unconventional' brand personalities:
  • Pious
  • Masochistic
  • Insecure
  • Clumsy
  • Stubborn
  • Sexist/Elitist
  • Aggressive
  • Fearful

The official brand of [insert emotion]

The norm is employing glossy positivity to stimulate first-level, trivial and fluffy emotion from consumers. A more honest approach is to embraces a downbeat tone, which flies in the face of superficiality, reaffirming the truth that people's feelings and personalities in real life are a confusing mess of ups and downs. This blends into one enjoyable and more meaningful concept.

Nowadays, brands can embrace their shadows. Shadows are qualities deemed undesirable and thus are usually repressed, by brands and by people.

But if brands could tap into this resource, they would allow consumers to express and normalise the negative feelings they all have, and thus build much stronger relationships with them.

To create stronger, more, believable brands, we must also learn to incorporate the darker spectrums sometimes.

Resolving contradiction

Great brands resolve contradictions. Omo washing powder makes dirt a good thing. And Apple makes computers and technology more human. Here's a call for stronger contradictions and more honest/holistic brand identities.

About Matt Rose

Matt Rose, avid trend watcher passionate about SA's people, is a senior strategic planner with Promise Brand Specialists (JHB) , specializing in market research, shopper marketing, behavioral psychology. He brings a grounded, often controversial approach to uncovering consumer insights. Honours include 2010 Loeries finalist (Digital) and 2011 Cannes Lions shortlisting (Digital). Email , follow him on @mlwrose Twitter, connect LinkedIn.
Seleso Moledi
negative emotions are a "redflag" that something is "wrong" in ones life that "immediate attention" is required to resolve what ever the issue maybe. Educating your consumers and resolving theirissues will build stronger relationships. However having, a PiousMasochisticInsecureClumsyStubbornSexist/ElitistAggressiveFearful, brand in SA ?? poses a serious problem.
Posted on 17 Oct 2011 18:04
Matt Rose
Hi Seleso, I hear your concern but i feel its all about what the target audience resonates with, and aligning brands favorably in the mind of the consumer. If they are at life stages that are 'insecure', 'pious' or 'aggressive' then our marketing communications will be most effective when we reflect those feelings.. "Redflags" need not be labeled as 'wrong' and often need not immediately be addressed at all. Sometimes we want to dwell on interesting/scary/emotional feelings and issues. (Hence the immense popularity of the horror genre and tear jerking films.) We are all human and our identities are a mash-up of positive AND negative feelings . Marketing is about communicating in ways the consumer can identify with, even if it isn't always our own personal preference. Anyway, Thank you for reading and commenting :)
Posted on 18 Oct 2011 09:14