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SA Brand Management – The Bachelor inspires

SA Brand Management – The Bachelor inspires

Long-running reality TV series, The Bachelor, delivers an abject lesson in brand management. The bachelor is the consumer and the contestants the many products working tactically to become the chosen one. The collision of so many different women in a dramatic attempt to find love is not that different from the fragrance section of a department store, writes Karen Zimelka Roos.

I must have read close to a hundred different definitions of branding over the years, many of them too complicated for the average layperson. The one that wins the prize for effective simplicity is from brand strategy guru, Dr Thomas Oosthuizen, who says: ‘A brand is a total experience’.

To highlight critical steps in the process of brand management, the TV series, The Bachelor, comes to mind as it illustrates the concept of extremely similar brands in a highly competitive market. For those not familiar with the series, the plot is fairly simple. Take the most exotic locations, add a handsome bachelor and about 30 beautiful female contestants with one objective – to seduce the guy and ultimately become the chosen one.

Think of the bachelor as the consumer and the contestants as the many products working tactically to be the chosen one. The collision of so many different women in a dramatic attempt to find love is not that different from the fragrance section of a department store.

A similar number of contestants (fragrance brands) have gone to great lengths to seduce you (the shopper) into buying them. The lavish displays, designer bottles and the sales ladies with their meticulously shaded make-up create the brand experience. Each contestant in The Bachelor must use all the skills, tactics and tools necessary to make themselves as attractive as possible to the man on offer, or risk being eliminated at a ‘rose ceremony (which is more like the War of the Roses!).

The show delivers three major lessons in branding:

  1. Never underestimate the power of good packaging

It can be difficult for consumers to separate the packaging from the product.  Think of Absolut vodka. If it came in a less iconic design, would the brand be as desirable? Think the highest paid social media stars today. Here are the top 7 highest paid individuals on Instagram in 2018, according to Hopper HQ, ranked by how much each one charges per sponsored post.

  • Kylie Jenner
  • Selena Gomez
  • Cristiano Ronaldo
  • Kim Kardashian West
  • Beyoncé Knowles
  • Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson
  • Justin Bieber

Now ask yourselves why. Is it only because they perform at the best in their category, or is it also because of their attractiveness? How strong is their aesthetic appeal?

In the case of The Bachelor, the casting directors have carefully curated contestants who are aesthetically pleasing with a great figure, pretty face, and all that attractive packaging. So already there is product parity (all contestants look good). Lash extensions, teeth bleaching and fake tans are pretty standard, not allowing for much differentiation there. Think of the fragrance example. The bottle and packaging design, as well as the name and logo, play a massive role in attracting and persuading the consumer to make the purchase. It’s also worth noting the packaging is often five times more expensive than the actual liquid itself.

Contestants must select the perfect clothing and accessories to ensure they look their best at all times. They do, however, have to make these decisions before they have any inkling of what their fellow contestants/competitors are wearing.

  1. Everyone has a story to tell

It’s the job of a great brand strategist to listen carefully, dig deeper and question further in order to unearth key insights about their customers. This research process is a critical step in developing a brand strategy, and thanks to the online tools we have at our fingertips, this should be an ongoing project. The contestants in The Bachelor are not, however, that fortunate. They have no access to any digital or social media tools throughout the series.

Contestants also have limited time with the bachelor so they have to work strategically and efficiently. They quickly assess what makes him tick. His hobbies, his family dynamics and the story of his life must be carefully analysed in order to ensure they engage with him in the most alluring, but also relevant, way possible. Knowing their competition is vital; contestants must identify their competitors’ strengths and weaknesses and observe how the bachelor responds to each one. This will allow them to identify their greatest threats and strategise about how to outperform them.

  1. Brands should be telling their own stories

Stories that go far beyond the copy in their brochure or on the website. They need to tell the story of who they are, why they exist, what their values are and what makes them unique.

Social media platforms are brimming with stories – many carefully orchestrated by individuals to create a certain perception about their lives. Brands are doing the same. Starbucks boasts over 35 million followers. Their Facebook story begins: “Come on in. This space is not so different from your neighborhood Starbucks. It’s a place where people from all over come together for conversation and great coffee. We welcome your ideas, feedback, and constructive criticism.”

They don’t make it about the coffee; they make it about the experience.

Think of the cultural icon, Bob Marley. He was far more than a musician; he was a charismatic storyteller. In an article from Rolling Stone Magazine’s ‘Band of the Year’, they capture his powerful presence: “You only have to see him on stage, a dancing dervish, dreadlocks windmilling, to realise that here is a rock & roll star.”

But there are many more storytelling platforms available, over and above social media. The voice over the phone, the guy serving you a meal, the product placement in a soap opera – they all have a role to play.

In the case of The Bachelor, as mentioned in the second lesson, the contestants need to have listened carefully, dug deeper and observed both the bachelor and their competition to be able to tell their own engaging and transparent story.

In an interview with Mike Fleiss (creator of the show), he describes a contestant’s behaviour: “Night one, they’ll come up to me and say, ‘Mike, Oh, thank you sir, for this wonderful opportunity.’ And by night two, they’re ordering people around.”

In that fiercely competitive environment, it might seem an attractive option for contestants to tell a story that is not truly reflective of whom they are. The problem is that the authenticity of their story is easily lost as stressful emotions take a hold and their true selves shine through.

I find the best way to remember the key components that make a powerful brand identity is to think of the brand as a person. A large part of person’s brand identity is genetic. What they look like, how they sound, their natural fragrance, etc. are largely determined by genetics. Let’s call that the packaging and design.

It’s the elements that make up the rest of their brand where their agency for influence prospers. Most people spend a fair portion of their lives researching. Scrolling through Instagram, following News24 on Twitter or simply observing people in a club are all forms of research. It is through this constant process that we decide which brands we love and which we avoid.

Although the design and packaging are extremely important when it comes attracting attention, most people are looking for more. They want a connection and that comes through experiences that communicate the values, purpose, personality and behaviour of the brand. Only when the brands’ story truly resonates with the consumer will it become the chosen one.

Stand out from the crowd

If you are driven by curiosity and would embrace the challenge of creating brands powerful enough to stand out from the crowd, our Strategic Brand Management online short course may be the perfect for you.

Within 12 weeks, you’ll learn how to make your brand stand out in an arena where everyone is jostling for attention. You’ll be given practical tools to create a distinct identity for your brand and successfully position your brand in a relevant, meaningful and dynamic manner.

You’ll also get an in-depth look at the brand identity development process and brand positioning, brand architecture and the creation of the customer brand experience, consumer behaviour and its influences, and the competitive advantage of strong brands. Designed for those wanting to make their market place “mark”, this course is perfect for anyone in branding, marketing or marketing communications, or small business owners and managers.

Course outline:

  • The Concept and Process of Strategic Brand Management
  • The Concept of Brand Equity
  • The Brand Identity Development Process and Brand Positioning
  • Brand Identity, Image and Personality
  • The Growth Strategies of Established Brands
  • The Importance and Function of Brand Architecture
  • Brands Adaptation in Foreign Markets
  • Brand Acquisition and Divestiture
  • The Application of Product Brand Components to Nation Brands and Personal Brands

Find it here: https://www.immsc.co.za/online-course/strategic-brand-management/

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