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Branding That Means Business

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Branding That Means Business

How to Build Enduring Bonds Between Brands, Consumers and Markets

Public Affairs,

15 min read
8 take-aways
Audio & text

What's inside?

Psychology and marketing experts provide a helpful guide to building stand-out brands in an era of digital commodification.

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Marketing and psychology experts Matt Johnson and Tessa Misiaszek describe brands as if they were people. They advise firms to create brands that have strong personalities, purpose and meaning. Digitization and commodification, they warn, direct consumers toward generic products. To compete, brands must inspire customers with emotion and forge links based on values and identity. Johnson and Misiaszek offer clear explanations of marketing concepts, grounding them in fascinating stories of contemporary brands that have flourished by connecting with consumers.


Brands succeed by understanding and appealing to human nature.

Great brands succeed by connecting with people at a deep level. Today, brands matter more than ever because online, people can easily purchase whatever catches their attention. Consumers have to make an effort to seek out brands amid the digital cacophony. Often, a company’s brand makes more difference to its success than any other asset – but if a brand doesn’t matter to consumers, it doesn’t matter at all.

A brand must have meaning to consumers that differentiates it from all the similar options consumers face. A brand has meaning in the same way a home is more than a house: It offers a personal connection replete with belonging, comfort, positive memories and strong associations. You can’t simply decide, however, that your brand has meaning. Customers make that decision, just as you might feel at home in some houses but not others.

Successful brands create functional value – a real difference in consumers’ lives.

To many consumers, the Nike swoosh means excellence and effort. For some, this meaning literally changes their experience of using the product – such ...

About the Authors

Matt Johnson is a professor of marketing psychology at the Hult International Business School and head of NeuroScienceOf, a neuromarketing firm. Tessa Misiaszek is head of research at the Korn Ferry Institute, co-founder of the Happy at Work podcast and an instructor in Harvard’s Continuing Education Division.

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