The Brand Affinity Marketing Playbook
Digital advertising doesn't make people like you.
Digital advertising is an amazing marketing tool. It can help you get your solution in front of audiences precisely when they're looking for it, and can be used to pique interest about a specific product or service.
But, it doesn't make people like you.
In 2023, when the world’s collective knowledge is available at our finger tips and the web is saturated with ads of all shapes and sizes (text, image, and video), users have become adept at mentally ignoring things they don’t want to see.
It's no longer the case that by exposing them to a compelling tagline or 10-second video upwards of seven times, customers will come to know and trust your company name.
But it's how we tried to build brands.
This is the approach employed by most businesses looking to increase brand affinity—create a few short, creative assets, pay Google and Facebook to provide as many small interactions with as many people as possible, then aim for love at first sight.
- Brand Affinity
- The most enduring and valuable level of a relationship between a business and consumer based on the mutual belief that they share common values.
Of course, there is the exception that proves the rule. Occasionally, a campaign will hugely impact a company's reputation by going viral and achieving PR success, but these cost a fortune, and are one in a million.
The vast majority of advertising campaigns, however, have little genuine impact on the trust and affection people have for a business. To mask this problem, distribution platforms measure success with metrics like impressions, clicks, and views, giving trivial passing interactions the same weight as meaningful engagements. The number of impressions is not the number of people impressed.
Brand affinity is driven by advocacy, rather than awareness.
Almost all brand building activities are centered around increasing awareness, under the false assumption that awareness alone will increase affinity.
- Brand Awareness
- The extent to which consumers are familiar with the distinctive qualities or images of a brand.
Focusing brand-building activities on awareness rarely leads to an audience of advocates or super fans. Think about it this way—awareness means someone knows of your brand, and affinity means someone likes your brand.
Our perceptions of companies are not based on how many times we've interacted with them in passing, but rather the depth of our personal experiences, and the experiences of those we trust.
So we need a new way of building brands.
Your business will generate some brand advocates through a great product and stellar customer support. But word of mouth is not just driven by your most active and delighted customers, it's driven by anyone who has formed a strong opinion about you one way or another.
So to build a lasting brand in the modern world, we need a way to market to the circles of influence for our potential buyers and to positively dispose them to our offerings, turning our wider audiences into brand advocates.
And for individuals to become an advocate for a business, they need to feel connected to its purpose and personality.
Brand Affinity Marketing
Building brand affinity has become a necessary strategy for most successful businesses. In the past, brand affinity wasn't a category of marketing—instead, it was a measurement that was associated with retention and the ability to get repeat purchases from customers.
With Brand Affinity Marketing, rather than forcing viewers to interact with the same ad over and over again, businesses invest in the creation and distribution of long-form, binge-worthy content. By nature, this content encourages viewers to spend more time with your brand, giving you the opportunity to make more personal connections with them. Just like with your product, you can only grow demand by delivering unique content to a focused audience that resonates with their core values and identities.
- Brand Affinity Marketing:
- An approach to marketing where businesses create and distribute binge-worthy content with the goal of positively impacting the overall sentiment, perception, and value of its brand.
- Entertaining content that is so good consumers can't help but want to watch, listen, or read a lot of it in one sitting.
Here's how it works.
Businesses should create binge-worthy content that is:
- Based on an original concept that only your business could create
- Focused on exploring a chosen theme, not your product or service
- Intentional and consistent with a release schedule and branding
- At least 10-15 minutes long, so that it can explore a topic or tell a story fully
In order to build brand affinity—and therefore create a well-loved, notable brand—businesses should create binge-worthy, long-form content that adds value to viewers' lives and doesn't just push them towards the next stage in the funnel. You can execute a Brand Affinity Marketing strategy with content like podcasts, books, a series of blog posts, and more, but the best way to build affinity is with binge-worthy, long-form video series. This type of content allows you to communicate more personally and engage with viewers through the most compelling medium that exists today—video.
This way of thinking used to be reserved for big brands with huge budgets, but now more than ever it’s critical that businesses start aiming for the goal of increasing brand affinity. For small to medium-sized businesses, investing in Brand Affinity Marketing is the key step in being able to cut through the noise, resonate deeply with your most loyal fans, and spread word of mouth, allowing you to effectively scale and grow an audience (and your business) over time.