Companies and organisations typically focus on their own relationships to customers. This has been underpinned by the fact that traditional marketing has been obsessed by individuals, and cared less about social realities. It is one of the many boxes that mainstream marketing imposes to simplify the world. The problem is that it tends to neglect the big picture, and one of the things that matter to people the most. Their social links.
Everything we do is connected to our social sphere, especially the stories and experiences we participate in. They have the potential to reinforce or redefine who we are, what we care for and where we are going. Even the most mundane products, associated with a low risk affect our relations in that they affirm them. Low engagement brands typically reinforce our existing relations. It doesn’t really change much, but it keeps the momentum going, all the while chiming “We are together in perfect harmony”.
Some stories and experiences are more potent, and have the potential to challenge and develop our existing relations. They bring in something new, in areas which we have taken for granted. Their challengning nature lead to a higher social risk, but in return result in a higher engagement. Stories which embody something new will always align both lovers and haters.
A few brands share stories and experiences which enable entirely new social links. Their stories will typically question mainstream thought in some way. These brands offer routes into tribes, groups of people sharing a common passion, with unique social identities, ideals and practices. Brands which enable a link to new social realms are highly valued by their enthusiasts.
There are many different types of social relations which our stories and experiences link us to. Some reinforce and challenge existing relations. A select few offer us a ticket to entirely new social groups. Brands can be reinforcers, challengers and enablers all at once depending on the relation in question. It is important to understand how stories and experiences align or develop these relations.
Companies and organisations are typically more interested in their relation to the customer, rather than the social spheres they live in. They also tend to be more interested in their products than the social links they affect. They are typically more interested in positioning themselves than helping their clients position their selves.
Our appreciation for and engagement with brands are affected by the social value we attribute them. Social value is a great way to outshine the competition and it is exceedingly difficult to copy.