Companies need to clearly define their brand to bond with customers

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  • Baron Scarpia Logan, UT
    May 15, 2012 6:44 a.m.

    "Bonding" is a great way to think about brands. Another term is identifying with a "tribe." Consumers use brands to identify with specific aspirational groups in society -- brands communicate overtly to others "who" they are and "with whom" they associate. It signals to people if you are socially-aware of what is "appropriate" with social norms.

    It has been interesting to watch my kids "evolve" with the brands they wear. When younger, they wore Gymboree clothing, which appeared to be more a reflection of parents' bonding or tribal connections within our social circle. Gymboree children are "well-provided for" -- that's the image.

    As the kids got older, the brands shifted to Justice (the tweens hip, but not overly sexualized brand). Now my older daughter has graduated to Hollister and Ambercombe & Fitch. Somehow these brands are the high school brands of choice (say over Old Navy).

    While many will say brands are a superficiality, we see the trend in adults in business. Wear the wrong brand on a job interview (watch, suit), and you've got a stike against you. Sad, but a reality of society's deeper need for bonding and tribal associations to fit in.