The Brand Strategy Of Self-Expression

Emmanuel ProbstFebruary 16, 20233 min

Self-expressive brands enable us to express our inner selves, “the way others see me.” People who want to express their “real me” are more engaged with brands online and are motivated to co-create brand value. They become brand advocates. Ultimately, they are willing to pay a premium and will develop a long-term relationship with the brand.

Before co-creating, consumers must first trust and engage with the brand. Brands such as Nike, Smirnoff, and Old Spice enable their audience to transform their sneakers, define what makes nightlife original, and remix their advertising campaigns.

People often carefully select what brands they follow to curate their virtual identity and present an idealized version of themselves. They might follow these brands online but never consume them off-line. While immediate, their relationship with the brand is also short-lived.

How Gucci Enables Its Customers To Express Their Individuality

On a more positive note, brands can be a source or symbol that consumers transfer meaning to, like a mirror that reflects the identity of the individual. When we bond with a brand, it helps define us and presents us as we want to appear, generating passionate feelings, a phenomenon marketers refer to as brand passion. Brand passion is particularly valuable to brands, as it drives trust, self-expression, and self-brand integration.

Gucci’s challenge was to find the right balance between appealing to old-money consumers and the younger generation. Gucci focused its strategy on offering exclusive products through a culture of inclusivity.

To its customers, Gucci is a bold and unapologetic expression of individuality and self-expression. As such, Gucci enables its customers to disregard traditional rules imposed by society, such as gender identification, how to express oneself, or what to wear. The brand is transformative in that it enables its clients to be who they want to be, no matter how much they differ from “the norm.” Gucci was the first to offer a gender-neutral collection, MX, and promises to question how binary gender relates to our bodies.

Most other luxury brands focus on selling an unrelatable dream or showcasing their craftsmanship, a key attribute of luxury that is relevant but not personal. In contrast, Gucci tells stories that position the consumer as the hero rather than the brand and its products.

The Confidence To Complete A Challenge: Spotlight On The IKEA Effect

Instant cake mixes were first introduced in the 1950s to simplify the lives of American housewives by minimizing the tasks involved in baking. Today, the global cake mix market is more than $1.2 billion, but cake mixes initially failed because they made it too easy; housewives felt their skills and labor were undervalued. Based on this, manufacturers changed the formula to require adding an egg, leading home cooks to believe their labor was crucial in the baking of a great cake.

Researchers coined this psychological phenomenon the IKEA effect —named after the Swedish retailer whose furniture requires assembly. Doing a bit of legwork increases our belief in the value of the product we created, even though a professional would have delivered a better result. What’s more, consumers are willing to pay more to build things themselves.

However, the task should be simple enough to complete. If people spend too much time and effort building their creations or fail to complete the task, their perception of the value of the item decreases.

Contributed to Branding Strategy Insider By: Dr. Emmanuel Probst, excerpted from his book Assemblage: Creating Transformative Brands

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