Put simply, a passion brand is not a brand that consumers purchase purely out of habit, it’s a brand they have an emotional connection with and want to be identified with by their peers. But this is just the beginning.
We all have a brand personality that we hope consumers will find resonances with, relate to, and therefore find an emotional connection with the brand. Does it work? Not often. It needs to go a lot deeper.
Brand personality is only skin-deep for most brands. For consumers to develop an emotional connection with your brand, they need to see, on every level of your brand (including the corporate actions behind it) that the brand acts in a way that they believe in. But more than that, the brand recognises the consumers who are passionate about the brand and opens the brand to them: allowing the brand to grow and change with the needs of those who love it, rather than being straitjacketed by old-style top-down closed brand management.
So that means: if you want to become a passion brand, you’ve got to be prepared to try brand democratisation. However much the passionate few of your consumers love what your product is, and what your brand stands for, passion brand status is not going to come your way if your keep your consumers shut out of your brand.
So let’s take a look at how Red Bull got to where it is today?
1) They sought out brand representatives amongst students and young people, to introduce the brand to their friends at Red Bull parties. These young people shared the party mentality with the brand and enjoyed the position they were given.
2) They projected a brand mentality all about seeking extreme experiences. And they followed this up by creating their own extreme sport events – some more serious than others.
In other words, they made it clear what they stood for and followed it up. They created engagement online and engagement opportunities offline. They added something to consumer’s lives in a completely new way for a brand. And they created a new category of soft drink into the bargain.
Which are the passion brands? It depends on whom you ask, but Apple, Nike, Google and Starbucks usually come top of the list. They’ve all approached it in different ways, they all pull the passion-strings for different reasons, but they have all created a group of consumers who absolutely want that brand in their lives over all other competitors.
If you’re interested in reading more about Passion Brands, two good books on the subject are:
“Passion Brands: Why Some Brands Are Just Gotta Have, Drive All Night For, and Tell All Your Friends about“. Author: Kate Newlin. Published: Prometheus Books, 2009. ISBN-13: 978-1591026877.
“Creating Passion Brands: How to Build Emotional Brand Connection with Customers”. Author: Helen Edwards and Derek Day. Published: Kogan Page, 2007. ISBN-13: 978-0749447625.