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‘A Collection of Memories’


The most important thing about a brand may be how it makes people feel. The product itself, its logo, and the marketing that surrounds


it: They all convey things about a brand. But what matters most is the experience that a brand can offer — and the emotional attachment that people form as a result, according to branding experts Jennifer Aaker, a social psychologist and professor of marketing at the Stan- ford Graduate School of Business, and management consultant Andy Smith, co-authors of The Dragonfly Effect: Quick, Effective, and PowerfulWays to Use Social Media to Drive Social Change.


Published last year, the book focuses


on the strategic use ofsocial media to create movements, but its insights are applicable to any organization that wants to increase engagement with its brand, Smith said in a phone interview with Convene. Social media is changing people’s expectations about brands—even for those who don’t use tools like Twitter and Facebook, he said. “The social [media] world has made it so that everything now has a face,” Smith said. “Brands are now expected to be more like people—and people expect to be able to interact with them.” Fittingly, the co-authors’ one-sentence definition of a brand strikes a deeply personal, emotional note: “A brand,” they write, “is a reputation, based on a collection ofmemories.” Smith and Aaker,who are husband and wife, also ground their


62 pcma convene May 2011


work in Aaker’s research on happiness, and the idea of “purposeful profit.” For most people older than 30, Aaker’s research has shown, meaning trumps money as a generator ofhappiness.The nonprofit and for-profit worlds are merging, they write, as for-profit companies discover the power that working for social good has on employees and customers. There are two kinds of happiness —


the excitement kind of happiness, and a deeper kind, associated with meaning and purpose, Smith said. Brands can keep peo- ple coming back by connecting with them on common ground in meaningful ways. Aaker and Smith offer four principles


for engaging audiences and creating the kinds of memories that build powerful brands: Tell a story. Storytelling is an extremely


powerful tool for brands, Smith said.“Most of us try to persuade others through facts and figures—but that doesn’t hook into the way we make decisions.” Humans really aren’t very rational, he added. “We may know that chocolate cake has a lot ofcalo- ries, but we make decisions based on the picture on the box.” Organizations can make the mistake of


crafting a story that is too complicated, or too generic. “One ofthe keys to telling a good story is determining a single, focused goal,” he said. “If you look at any com- pelling story that we might watch or read,


people have a mission—it’s a quest ofsome sort.” Developing a good story usually starts out, Smith said, “with determining what are you aiming for, and what is deeply meaningful to you and your constituents.”


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