There are people we associate with qualities we admire so that when we think of certain virtues we are also invariably reminded of them. For instance, every time I come across a version of the quote “Your character is defined by what you do when you don’t have to” I am reminded of a classmate. He was the only person I’d ever seen to take anonymous peer evaluations seriously. While everyone else was engaged in an unspoken race to be the first one finished and out the door, he put into the form the kind of thoughtfulness you’d be fortunate to find on an adoption paper. Although I’ve never spoken to him, I will always remember him and what he stands for.
Why do these people stay in our minds? I believe we are attracted to those with uncompromising principles, those with extraordinary ambitions, and those who can breed empathy from adversity because they live so determinedly by causes we too believe in and hold dear. Their overt identification with strong ideals leads them to be recognized as people with substance. Substance is heart and like moths to a flame, we gravitate towards this essence.
In this way brands are similar to people, when they have substance, when they embody values we admire or lifestyles we aspire to pursue, they hang around in our minds. Even when we don’t encounter them often. Even if they are not an integral part of our lives. When the occasion arrives that we must recall a certain product or service, the brands with purpose will be the ones to come to mind and when we have to make a purchase decision, the brands with heart are often our first call.
According to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, self-actualization, the desire to become all that one is able of becoming, penetrates the deepest level of human motivations. This suggests that a brand that can inspire and champion consumers in realizing self-actualization has the precious opportunity to create one of the most lasting connections. In recognizing their big ideaLs (see part I) brands take that first step in establishing such a bond.