How can a brand offer a sense of ultimate self-realization or self-acceptance? Here are a few ideas:
Inspiration: If an aspect of your brand can offer or be associated with an inspirational fear, open the floodgates. Brands like Red Bull, Harvard Business Review, Under Armour, The Ken Blanchard Company, Michelob Ultra, and even GMC have associated themselves with athletic and intellectual accomplishment and thus a sense of self-actualization.
Acceptance: Helping people accept themselves as they are isn’t just a thoughtful thing to do; it’s good marketing. Not unlike the Dove campaign, American Eagle turned heads when they launched their Aerie campaign. In the campaign, American Eagle used real people as models and refused to retouch the images. Tackling body-image issues, American Eagle went beyond basic product promotion and contributed to universal self-acceptance among their clientele.
Transcendence: Brands that invite customers to participate in a larger movement offer a greater, more impactful life along with their products and service. Tom’s Shoes built a name for itself by selling stylish shoes while simultaneously giving a pair to somebody in need in what they called a “one for one” model. Those who wore the shoes claimed a major factor in deciding to make the purchase was a sense of involvement with a larger movement. At less than ten years old, the for-profit brand sold more than $700 million. Another example of a brand that helps customers achieve a level of transcendence is Daymond John’s clothing brand FUBU, an acronym for “For Us By Us,” in reference to the African American community being represented in the marketplace. The brand offers more than fashion; it offers a sense of unity, transcendence, and entrepreneurialism for the African American community.
from “Building a StoryBrand: Clarify Your Message So Customers Will Listen” by Donald Miller