High Status Does Not Have to Mean Luxury

In Brand Thinking Sean Adams described branding as “a promise of an experience”. In the same book, Chairman of Saffron Brand Consultants Wally Olins defined branding as a “profound manifestation of the human condition…it is about belonging”. In a sense, this descriptions are about identifying with a specific entity. If you marry the two descriptions brands help to reconcile identity, meaning and status concerns. This reconciliation becomes the ultimate promise to the consumer.

Strong brands, and brands that create memorable experiences in the minds of the consumer, do not negotiate what they promise.

They promise excellent customer service. (See: Zappos)

They promise quality. (See: J Crew)

They promise emotional and functional benefits. (See: Subaru)

They know exactly who they are:

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In the 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing, Ries and Ries write: “Branding pre-sells the product or service to the user. Branding is simply a more efficient way to sell things”. The best reflection of this perspective is the sales pitch. When brands are communicating their value to consumers they are making a pitch. According to author Oren Klaff the power of the pitch revolves around the ability to generate status. A common mistake many people make when it comes to the sales pitch, is pitching for too low of a status. This strategy leans toward supplication: “Hey we are just happy that you are listening”. Brands that continually make the low-status pitch are not building a brand, they are building a commodity. (See: Kmart)

To me, low-status pitching comes in the form of cheap promotions, high discounts and communications that beg the consumer to choose them. High-status pitches aim to create a strong association in the prospect’s mind.

Throughout the literature, brands that deliver or exceed customer expectationsspark a positive emotional experience , remedy identity concerns and remain salient are the brands we choose to rally around. We fly their flags, because they deliver on a promise.

I want, and choose, brands who are constantly making high-status pitches.



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