What love and hate teach us about brand strategy

What binds the brand voice together is not seeing and hearing the brands message distributed across all media at the same time. What binds the brand voice is how every touch point delivers meaning. Notice I didn’t say value. Value is overrated and misunderstood. People assign value indiscriminately and in so many ways, and it is discussed and offered ubiquitously, so it has lost… well, it’s value. Meaning is also not always easy to to distinguish, but meaning is a more concrete concept and carries with it something that value often lacks – emotion.

Meaning goes deeper than value. Meaning uses a moral compass, but of course it doesn’t have to point North. Meaning can be dark for some, and light for others. It helps explain why things like the KKK, gangs, Nazi’s and extremists exist. It’s easy to attach meaning to hate, but not so easy to attach value. And it also explains why Meaning trumps Value – since any perceived value in those hate groups must be tied to deeply rooted beliefs and the meaningful thoughts and feelings that accompany those beliefs. Connecting with those meaningful thoughts and feelings is the most powerful way to persuade.

The same is true for love, and any other emotion in between. All people possess deeply rooted thoughts and feelings that can quickly assign meaning to what they see and hear. When the emotional message is clear, the meaningful value is understood, and a deeper connection is made.

To apply this strategically, you must look at what your audience expresses as meaningful thoughts and feelings. What they say and do, and how they say it and do it. Then work your way down to their beliefs and values, to be sure you understand the meaning they base their actions around. Then when you arrive at messaging, go back to those meaningful thoughts and feelings – and speak to them as they already speak to themselves.


With meaning as a focus of strategy, you gain an emotional edge. Writers and storytellers have long understood this – an emotional strategy helps build the meaningful narrative or plot through your whole experience. If you are a writer, you find the common thread of the story and build your emotional plot (or strategy) from there. Every twist and turn creates a new possibility in the plot, but it is the emotional strategy behind the book that helps the author make good choices for the layout of the plot, the characters, the settings, the tone, the dialogue and every other aspect of a great story.

Every strategy does the same thing, it guides decisions toward a common meaningful theme that propels everything with synchronization around purpose.

Strategy makes things better by instilling more meaning in every action and reaction. Sure, you can overlook strategy for bold ideas, quick hits, and a lightning bolt of activity – a shot in the pan. And if gambling is your game, you’re in luck because there are a lot of companies doing that, and a lot of agencies providing it. But if you like to hedge your bets and invest in more of a sure thing versus a long shot, then good strategy is probably something you highly value – because you understand how meaningful it is to your success. Here’s more about brand strategy and positioning.

Kent Land is a marketing and communications strategist, creative director, social entrepreneur and musician who can be found at brand67.com. Read other marketing and creative articles at Brand67 or you can email kent@brand67.com

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