In keeping with “How to Add Inspiration and Aspiration to Your Brand – Part 1,” today’s post (Part 2) focuses on the second important feature of a strong brand – aspiration.
When you listen to the presidential debates and town halls, have any of the candidates shared their visionary objectives for America? These are their aspirations—policy positions in this case.
Dictionary.com’s definition of “aspiration” as it pertains to this topic:
- astrong desire, longing, or aim; ambition
- agoal or objective that is strongly desired
Of course, having aspirations is standard fare for political candidates. In order to win elections, they must share and market these aspirations to voters in inspiring ways.
However, they also risk promising too much and disappointing many. Isn’t that why the electorate today is so frustrated and angry? Too many politicians have promised the moon and stars and then cannot deliver for a variety of reasons.
So, how does “aspiration” apply to businesses or organizations?
There are two kinds of aspirations your business must address – its own and those of its customers.
Your Business’s Aspirations
Having aspirations is synonymous to having desired goals. What do you want to achieve? What will your organization look like when it has reached that goal?
In a marketing and branding plan, this information is in a company’s mission and vision statements.
“Mission statement: states why the company exists or what it is trying to accomplish.
Example: ‘To bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete in the world.’ (Nike)
Vision statement: states what things will look like in the future.
Example: ‘Our vision is to be earth’s most customer centric company; to build a place where people can come to find and discover anything they might want to buy online.’ (Amazon)”
© 2015 Elaine Fogel, Beyond Your Logo: 7 Brand Ideas That Matter Most For Small Business Success
If your business/organization hasn’t developed either of these statements, I strongly recommend you do as part of its strategy. Without a mission and vision, you can easily get off track, wasting time, effort, and money.
Your Customers’ Aspirations
“At the heart of consumer decision-making are the needs, wants and desires that come from a complex range of material and non-material motivations. As society changes, so do consumers’ aspirations, and it is up to us as marketers to understand and interpret these changes.” (UCT Unilever Institute of Strategic Marketing)
“A gap exists between a consumer’s aspirations and their actual lifestyle. All consumers aspire to live a certain lifestyle but most times they settle for living a life below their aspirations. Successful brands make it easy for people to actualize their aspirations.” (“Branding Made Easy,” Brains on Fire blog)
Whether your business/organization is B2C, B2B, or donor-centric, prospects and customers have aspirations that your products/services may or may not fill. To succeed in attracting customers, you must first know and understand who they are, develop a strategy to reach them and meet their needs and wants, and then implement the tactics to achieve your strategic goals.
For example, many consumers who purchase luxury brands buy them for what they symbolize—status, prestige, and wealth (or pseudo-wealth). Coach handbags have long been sought after by women who admire the workmanship, style, and status they gain. At the retail level, bags run from $135-1800, with the majority falling within the $400-600 range.
Women who can regularly buy Coach products are likely in an upper socio-economic bracket which aligns with the Coach luxury brand.
“The Coach brand stands for authenticity, innovation, and relevance. We’re building on our brand strengths with a vision: To become the company that defines global modern luxury.”
Now, think of the many middle-class women who delight in buying Coach bags at outlet malls. They can’t afford them at regular retail prices, but they can splurge for deeply discounted bags that have been discontinued or are end-of-season closeouts. Both women have aspirations to be fashionable and carry a Coach, yet only one is the brand’s primary target audience. Coach’s brand is successful because it “makes it easy for people to actualize their aspirations.”
Today, there’s even a demographic category called, Aspirationals! Research by BBMG and GlobeScan confirms the rise of more than two billion consumers globally who are uniting style, social status and sustainability values to redefine consumption. According to The 2014 Aspirational Consumer Index, more than one-third of consumers globally (38%) identify as Aspirationals, defined by their love of shopping (93%), desire for responsible consumption (95%) and their trust in brands to act in the best interest of society (50%).
“Aspirationals are materialists who define themselves in part through brands and yet they believe they have a responsibility to purchase products that are good for the environment and society.” (Eric Whan, Sustainability Director, GlobeScan)
“Aspirationals are most likely to be millennials and Gen X – 35% of aspirationals are millennials, 34% are Gen X.” (“Aspirational’ Consumers Want Style and a Meaningful Experience,” eMarketer)
The BBMG/Gobescan research ties into the 2015 Cone Communications/Ebiquity Global CSR Study, in which respondents unequivocally believed that companies must operate responsibly to address social and environmental issues. Results show that:
- A majority (91%) expect companies to do more than make a profit.
- 84% say whenever possible they try to purchase products or services that are socially or environmentally responsible.
- 90% would like to see more responsible products and services offered from companies.
5 Ways to Make Your Brand Aspirational
- Define your business’s or organization’s realistic aspirations and stick to them. Consider including a genuine focus on social responsibility. Sure, you can make minor adjustments along the way, but changing direction will confuse your target audiences.
- Define your target audiences’ aspirations—the ones that your products and/or services can fulfill.
- Reinforce your aspirations in staff meetings and internal communication. This helps everyone stay on track to reach goals.
- Measure your success at reaching aspirations. Evaluate tactics and refine them as needed.
- Celebrate whenever you reach objectives. This gives your team’s efforts meaning and reward.
And, don’t forget to marry your brand’s aspirations with inspirational brand and marketing messages and exemplary customer experiences to truly make your brand a winner!
Is your brand aspirational? How?