Function or Feeling – How Will You Position Your Brand?
Nobody wants a directionless brand. Wandering through the consumer world, aimlessly latching on to the newest flavor of the month trend, hoping to find where it truly belongs.
Successful brands have purpose. They have pre-determined areas of differentiation and a target audience. They have a brand position. With this sense of direction, they can focus their branding efforts in the same direction, allowing for the full effectiveness to shine through.
So we now understand that your brand needs a position. The next question is – what is that position going to look like? When creating your positioning strategy, there are two main aspects to use as starting points – function or feeling. But which one’s right for your brand?
These brands are built on the foundation of their product or service. With the goal of owning their competitive space, the brand elements all tie back to the points of differentiation between them and the competition.
For instance, Under Armour has built its brand on the strength of its product, specifically its unique athletic wear characteristics. It came into the market touting a product that was unprecedented in the athletic wear space, and Under Armour has taken that advantage as the centerpiece of its brand. Even as it has expanded into other product lines, the brand continues to harken back to itself as a solution to common athletic-related problems across the board.
In taking this course of action, a brand must plan not only for today, but for the future. Will your coming products and/or services be able to live up to the standard set by the brand? It’s not enough to have one revolutionary piece to the puzzle, but to position yourself as a functional brand, subsequent pieces much fit much the same way.
This is welcome news to brands that thrive in innovation. Under Armour, Apple, Google – these brands strive to be known for their breakthroughs, and have lived up to the challenge consistently, and as such they have built their brands around this fact. They want their brand to stand out as the leaders in creating products that provide solutions and outstanding experiences for their consumers, time and time again.
Connection. Happiness. Satisfaction. The brands who position themselves through feeling are searching for the necessary alignment with these reactions by their consumers. Their goal is to go beyond that initial interaction an establish an emotional connection that drives brand loyalty and builds brand equity.
Some of these feelings are reactionary, and some are aspirational. Reactionary-focused brands will look to highlight the immediate feeling or emotional response that comes with brand interaction. Whether it is a beverage brand touting its great taste or a food brand highlighting its healthiness, how the consumer reacts (or hopefully reacts) is the centerpiece of the branding efforts.
Aspirational brands want to shape how the consumer feels, creating and driving home their intended emotional connotations. Luxury brands often lead the way in aspirational feeling branding, positioning themselves as the source of consumer pride – elegant, wealthy, high-class, etc. Their goal is to be the brand that makes the consumer hope to achieve some sort of unattained goal or feeling.