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How Your Brand Can Tap Desire



How Your Brand Can Tap Desire

[By Karen Geier]

You’ve seen desire in action. It’s the kids waiting in line for a waterslide. It’s people camping out overnight to buy a new phone. It’s people tweeting about an announcement of a movie based on a book they loved. We see desire in many forms every day. It’s only an elite group of brands and campaigns that seem to be able to capture and leverage desire, though. What do these brands do differently?

What Desire is

Desire can loosely be defined two ways: one way is the anticipation of something really good coming in the future; another is a preoccupation with an object, service, event, etc. It’s important to understand the mechanism that drives desire in order to plan for how to incite it.

Desire is really the unquestioned “want” feeling for something. It is a preoccupation. Most of us feel this pull at many points in our lives. Usually we feel this pull for one or more of the following reasons:

  • Aesthetics: Something about the look, feel or sound of a product or service has deep appeal.
  • Experience: We want to experience something new that looks interesting.
  • Status: We see something as a means to signal we’re rich or important.
  • Sex: We think something might make us more appealing to others.
  • Values: Something looks like it can make us feel better about ourselves, or reinforce our self-image.

If you can find a way to connect one or more of these feelings to your brand, you’re on your way to tapping the desire of your customers.

Understanding Leverage

Everyone has certain levers that motivate them to take action. These levers are either driven by fear or desire. What makes something desirable is unique to the person and circumstances, but the basic desire levers stated above are the ones that make a person interested in your product.

How to Decide Which Levers to Concentrate On

You likely can’t make the case that your product hits all the major desire drivers, so you should concentrate on the levers that fit best with your brand and aren’t too big of a leap for your brand.

Objectively, you should know whether your product has aesthetic appeal. If you don’t, walk out on the street and ask strangers whether they like the look of your product. If you get mixed reviews, your case isn’t strong enough for leveraging visual appeal.

Visual appeal is the easiest to leverage. Focusing on beautiful photography and videos will help communicate how covetable your product is.

To assess the experience lever of your product, you need to go back to what is unique about it. What makes it stand out? Is that experience enough to be coveted and be highly sharable? Is it an experience someone cannot easily get from a competitor?

If you have a unique experience, you should create campaigns around the immersion into the experience. This could mean creating videos that convey a point-of-view format, leveraging influencers to experience your offering firsthand, using testimonials in your campaigns, or simply allowing potential customers to try your experience for free.

Status is a fairly easy lever to assess. It often comes down to the price of a product, which puts it out of reach for many.

Leveraging status is fairly simple. By making your product exclusive, available by invitation only or through an influence-ranking system, you can make it even more coveted.

Sex is a hard lever to assess unless your product fits firmly in specific types of industries. This is best assessed by asking people who are unconnected to your business for their opinions.

Leveraging sex appeal is fraught with danger, as the line between one person’s “sexy” and another person’s “vulgar” can be difficult to tread. Consider leveraging this either with humour or in very subtle ways. The days of bikini spokes-models are over. Consider working with platforms that have some edge or a sexy history to them like Snapchat, or bloggers who push boundaries to communicate your value-add.

Values are easy to assess, because you have to purposefully implement them into your brand. To leverage values, you could partner with charities and nonprofit organizations, or you could have your employees participate in values-based activities and blog about them.

Desire is the holy grail of marketing. It is possible to leverage the main factors that cause people to feel desire by looking for connections between your brand and what motivates people. Once you find the correct lever, you need to communicate that connection in places where people you’re trying to target naturally live and are primed to hear your message. Desire isn’t something you can manufacture, but you can lead your desired audience to it.


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