Brand affinity goes beyond the matrix.
The past decade is undoubtedly the 'social' decade, as our lives have flooded the social media world, creating infinite levels of captured moments, thoughts, images, videos and crazy random shit. We are constantly plugged into an ecosystem of platforms like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, WhatsApp, WeChat, and the list goes on for hundreds of miles. This era brings us into the era of context, transparency and untethered life. But has it changed our nature as social creatures? Has it evolved our affinity? Does the power of social media stretch beyond the technological platforms that have taken over our daily lives?
Affinity influencing brand affinity
An interesting thing happened to me on Saturday. After enjoying a surreal family brunch, we took a spontaneous trip to Courts (Singapore's largest electronics retailer), with the aim of getting a new rice cooker and dust buster (is that term universal?). I have to admit, I'm completely lost when it comes to house hold appliances, my mastery of knowing the difference between two models is mostly lead by the recommendations of the sales staff. But today something unique happened. Something that made me realize the powers of social media reach beyond the matrix. That a brand affinity can and does influence our choices in the real world in ways that constantly surprise us.
Faced with the life and death decision of the Bosch MiniVac versus the Philips, something other than the staff, price or features drove my decision. A power that can only be described as the power of social. Something social media professionals should be proud of, as brand shines through in a world full of brand noise.
At the point of purchase, what brand affinity will shine through?
A friend of mine, Damien Cummings who I have a great amount of personal and professional respect for has recently moved into the regional CMO role of Philips. So my mind immediately had a brand affinity. A connection that I've never had before, nor can I explain the new connection logically. The new association drove my brand preference towards Philips for no logical reason other than my social connection. The logical connection was 'I respect Damien's choices, so I respect the brand he choose to work for.' Whether its deliberate or not, the choices people around you make effect the choices you make both online and offline. In Damien's previous role at Samsung, the brand affinity wasn't present, maybe because most of the Samsung products I engaged were ones I was deeply familiar with.
Social media is ripe with stories of brand affiliations through social, and we don't need Facebook to highlight the importance of 'word of mouth,' a key trait to a thriving brand before the internet. But the power of social brand connections scales to amazing heights when powered by social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc. However an often forgotten component in the social media arsenal of brands is their staff. Just by knowing someone who works at a brand can heavily influence the perception of the brand. Simply, we like to deal with brands we know. So even a weak connection is good enough to shine above the crowd.
Content Marketing & Brand Affinity
Serendipitously, I witnessed Damien share this unique strategy when he presented at the recent Marketing Leadership Festival. For those that have followed my work, you'd appreciate my love for content marketing as a game changer. Not just because I am huge fan of the work Gary Vaynerchuk did in his latest book Jab Jab Jab Right Hook, but because I see content as an authentic, engaging lead in a digital and social media world full of crapy banner inventory. A way to turn the knowledge of a company or brand into a value creation message. Damien has the ambitious plan to turn some eleven thousand Philips staff into content creators, adding deep insightful messages coming from the brand across social media.
As social media builds its penetration of society, it will carry with it strong networks of brand advocates, none stronger in building affinity than the employee base of a brand.
It worked for my MiniVac purchase. Share with me your stories of brand affinity, does it influence you often?