As marketers, we relentlessly focus on putting forward the best public image of the brands we represent. We attempt to attract consumers by pitching the virtues of an ideal, must-have solution that taps in to vulnerabilities. We pitch these products as the be-all, end-all answer to our needs i.e. the ideal home, or the ideal mobile phone or the ideal skincare product for you. But think about this; can the universal concept of an ideal anything exist at all? Especially when you consider that it’s a construct of our imagination that wildly varies by person, and with the passing of time.
The aspiration of an ideal self is, does, and will contain as many permutations of ‘ideal’ as there are people. Visualize each person having their own personal ideal self: a projection that captures the needs and intentions of who we desire to be, and you start to understand the complexity of the challenge for brands to remain relevant to what a consumer wants.
More importantly, as each of us strives to attain this uber self, we must also take into consideration that it involves a process of discovery. We certainly won’t be who we are now, projected into the future. We’ll go through a process of developing new perspectives, impressions and experiences that will change our cognitive needs as individuals. Along the way, we’ll adopt the things we believe will help us embrace our future selves, will have tried our hand at new experiences, and shifted our loyalty to those brands that can communicate directly to addressing the need of finding an ideal self. After going through those experiences, we will be who we are in that future. Who we will be, what our needs will be, and what the idea of ‘ideal’ may mean to us is going to evolve.
In consumer terms, such self-discovery will inevitably involve scrutiny of our brand affiliations, often resulting in a shift in loyalty from one brand, to those we believe will help us attain this notion of future self. Dialogue will be at the heart of these relationships. While there may be enormous amounts of push messages out there competing for attention, a lot of it won’t go beyond being anything other than noise.
Brands must embrace personalization as the foundation for creating meaningful relationships. Speaking directly to the immediate sensibilities of the consumer, and doing so at a poignant time in their lives, will create the coveted connection to brand promise. And as part of the quest for finding the perfect me, speaking directly to these aspirations will allow those brands to take their place as a go-to provider in the ongoing pursuit of one’s ideal self.