Marketing personas need Brand Graphs

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brand-map

I was in a LEGOs’ store today and was wishing I was 10 again. Not that you need an excuse to enjoy yourself with kids toys but it sorta helps. It was amazing how busy the store was and made me feel like I’d wandered into the Apple store. As I watched my son assemble LEGO characters I started to think about how LEGOs had impacted my early life and then thought about how Apple had impacted my life later. I realized, I love those brands! Now, if you know me, this would come as a complete shock. I’m not a brand person per se and purposely avoid being associated with brands. Not because Im such a rebel or anything. I just don’t like brands “on me”.

I then started to think about all the brands that I do love, which is not that many! Here is a short list of my brands in no particular order.

Apple – The first computer in my house as a young man was a Mac Plus. It was little more than a word processor that could play games but it was a great little machine. Since then, Apple (or Steve Jobs) changed my life. If you read this link you’ll understand why. The iPad Mini is an amazing tool!

LEGO – These little blocks shaped my childhood. I spent countless hours creating alien spacecraft and battling it out with their arch enemies. They’re the perfect tool for creativity and a metaphor I use for entrepreneurs today. “Someone who’s good an pulling in disparate elements to create something new.”

Audi  –I had an Audi 8000 in high school and have missed it ever since I sold it. Audi has done a great job of stealing BMW customers and the design of the cars – specifically the grill – makes it one of the meanest machines on the street. Take a look at Cruel Intentions

Chrome – The utilitarian simplicity of the clothing, shoes and messenger bags make it easy to appreciate. It as a strong brand (top left corner) and the flat design of the logo translates to mobile devices well. Checkout Chromebags.com

Pixar – Pixar has made my children’s lives better. Their story telling. The quality of their creations. Everything . . . Truly amazing. Checkout Pixar’s first real bad guy from Brave. His name is Mor’du

Trek  I’ve been riding Trek bikes for roughly 1000 years. Great machines. Durable. Lightweight. Love them. Check out this amazing concept bike.

Never Summer –The experience of flying down a mountain at Mach 9 on a Never Summer board is one of the few joys in life. If you don’t board, you should learn. If you ski; I’m sorry.  :)

United Airlines – I know. I know. They’re the antichrist of the travel world. And yet, my earliest travel experiences were facilitated by United. I’m one of the few people that I know that truly enjoy the flight portion of travel.

Pearl Izumi – They make the best cycling shorts and the Lobster gloves are my favorite!

Hot Wheels – Along with LEGOs, these little cars were an essential part of my childhood. The concept of design creeped its way into my life through these amazing vehicles. Checkout this concept car they did with Lotus.

Instagram   This little vehicle of social self-expression has instigated more outings as of late, than I care to mention. This summer, I heard my wife say; “Hey. Why don’t we go to Red Rocks and and take some pictures and pump them into Foursquare?” I love it when she talks geeky.

Foursquare  This app has continued to evolve and I use it every day. I’m 1002 days out as of today and my love for location-based experiences has continued to grow. Instagram + Foursquare + Travel = HappyMe

Twitter – Twitter is my window unto the world. My curated world. Twitter + WeFollow.com + Flipboard = Real-time curated news. An essential part of my professional life. Could not live without it.

Puma – Love the brand. Love the clothes. (The shoes are too narrow – which makes me very sad – and they shut down the Mongolian Shoe BBQ, which is sad.)

Okay. By now you’re asking; weren’t you going to talk about brand graphs or something? (Think social graph.) The point of all this is that it’s important – very important – to map out the brands that your target market loves. It’s not enough to say they like this activity. Or read these kinds of books. Or watch these types of films. You need to get to what brands they have a passion for. (Yes. 007 is a brand.) This not only creates the potential for powerful strategic partnerships (Puma + Ducati) also paints a very accurate portrait for your marketing personas.

(Also: The best thing you can learn from your customers is of an emerging brand. Think of it as a friend telling you about a band you haven’t heard of. An insider secret.)

By Michael Myers

I am an Associate Professor of Digital Marketing at the Daniels College of Business, University of Denver. I also consult with startups and established brands. I'm currently focused on artificial intelligence, cognitive neuroscience and culture. I am married to an amazing woman and have two incredible children. I was raised in Colorado and spend my free time with family, biking, snowboarding and going to the Pacific Ocean to SCUBA dive and/or surf. I'm passionate about architecture, design, street art, photography and the art that tattooing has evolved into.

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