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I love cars. Not just any cars, and not the insanely fast, newer cars that can knock your eyebrows to the back of your neck. I love muscle cars; the Challenger, the LeMans, the Chevelle. I’m often longingly watching these relics while I pass them on the highway, while I’m driving a brand new car. What sense does that make? I have far more conveniences and luxuries in my current car, and I would most certainly trust it more to get me back from a roadtrip.

The reasoning is not practical, and there’s something to learn from this regarding the strength of brand management. While the logical side of my mind tells me that I will have better gas mileage, fewer repairs, and a more comfortable ride in my newer car, it doesn’t outweigh the chance to capture a legacy – a piece of history – and the unexplainable attachment I have with these chariots of untamed fury . Granted, I wasn’t even around in the heyday of those sexy beasts, but it makes no difference. These masses of steel with dim dashboard lighting and the inability to make any type of turn above 45mph carry an unbreakable emotional bond with me.

Let’s translate that to your own experience. Is every purchase you make based solely on sound, rational judgment? Do you refuse yourself the things that you could certainly live without? The answer, 99% of the time, is probably “no”. The fact is that we buy with our hearts first, then justify it to our minds second. You don’t need the tabloid magazines, the candy bars, or the champagne (and whatever else you have) on New Year’s. But there’s no disputing it – you must have it. They are just cases of the emotional demand overruling logic.

How can you leverage this in your own brand? The idea is simple: have people develop an irrational love for what you have to offer. In many ways, you should consider branding to be a lot like trying to get a date; for instance, make every encounter an awesome one and, quite simply, look better than the alternative. Over the next few weeks, I’m going to offer specific approaches that you can focus on to deliver a brand that people can fall in love with, no matter what you’re offering.

Next week: the “Dark Smoky Bar Method.”

Patrick King

Patrick is the Founder of Imagine and advisor to places on brand strategy and creative. His insights have been published in Inc. Magazine, SmartCEO, Washington Business Journal, The Washington Post, and Chief Marketer, among other publications, and shared at conferences throughout the US. He also has an amazing sock collection.


  • Carl says:

    I am intrigued with your take. How do I get connected to your ongoing tidbits of insight?

  • Diana says:

    My very first car was a ’68 Mustang, candy apple red, black Shelby stripes. That thing was older than me but faster than I’ll ever be. It was far from perfect and required mondo maintenance (melted the first two engines, lots of body work, too) but damn, I had an unnatural love for that beast. Sank a lot of money in it. Nevertheless, kinda wish I still had it… talk about brand affinity and an emotional, irrational purchase…..

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