I've been on vacation for a while and I know some of you need a little something to get upset about, so here's a little piece of past contrariana.
On many occasions I have poked fun at "branding," "brand babble" and their many incompetent practitioners. And while that is great fun, there are some serious points to be made.
There are a few product categories that are highly reliant on brand perceptions. These tend to be categories in which the products are essentially frivolous commodities - soda, cigarets, beer/booze, fashion.
These products have little-to-no utilitarian value, are essentially identical, and are bought primarily for the image or inferred status they confer on the buyer.
Because these products tend to be heavily advertised, naive and/or silly advertisers think that the rules that apply in these categories apply in theirs. They don't.
Most products are bought for specific, concrete reasons -- they taste better, work better, look nicer, are more convenient, or cost less.
The emotional buttons that work to motivate sales of perfume simply don't work when you're selling oven cleaner.
And yet we constantly hear marketers talk about the need to make "an emotional connection" with consumers.
Yes, it never hurts if people have positive feelings toward your product or brand. But in most categories it takes more than that to motivate a change in behavior.
In most categories it is far more productive to make a logical connection -- a good solid reason to try your product -- than an emotional one.
And, just as an aside, I have seen research that indicates that a fact-based ad is just as likely to produce an emotional reaction in an observer as a supposedly "emotional" ad.