This post is a part of our 10 Elements of an Influential Brand series where we cover the essentials to building a powerful brand. Follow this series to learn how to attract an audience, keep them engaged, and turn them into loyal fans.
“Every successful brand stands for something more than itself, and that thing is emotional. A great brand promises hope or the contagion of coolness, desirability, love, romance, acceptance, luxury, youth, sophistication, or high quality technology.”
- Martin Lindstrom in his book, Small Data: The Tiny Clues that Uncover Huge Trends
The dictionary definitions of grandeur include having more importance than others, being large and striking in scope, extent, or conception, or the quality or state of being impressive.
Your brand can convey a sense of grandeur; an aspirational quality that also seamlessly fits into your fans’ life.
For instance, Luxury brands focus on aspirational branding and grandeur, in the sense that they create products that signal a higher social status. However, recently, the most successful aspirational brands are the ones that are also lifestyle brands, in the sense that the brand encapsulates a lifestyle consumers identify with and desire.
So, why aspirational over inspirational?
As Charlie Brown, wrote for Fast Company, “People who are inspired are temporarily stimulated to do or feel something. Aspiration, on the other hand, involves striving in a long-lasting and meaningful way to achieve or become something in particular.”
Now, how do you create that aspirational brand?
Strike an Emotional Chord
You need to communicate the values that drive your vision and where that vision will take you and any fan who will follow along. The loftiness of your brand’s goals should make fans eager to be a part of that vision.
Your approach should have a three fold action.
Act as an aspiration goal.
Then allow for individuality in the sense people can achieve the goal without being you.
Finally, connect others with the same goals.
Don’t tell your audience how to be exactly like you. Instead you should help guide them to interpret your values and vision from their own perspective and apply it to themselves. As fans add their own individuality and flavor, associating themselves with your brand, the underlying values should shine bright as a badge of honor. These fans will signal to others who aren’t yet aligned with the brand, but who have the same aspirations and values.
Eventually they connect to your brand and at that point it becomes infectious.
Completely Embody the Grandeur
As important as it is for you to engage fans emotionally with your grandeur, it’s equally necessary for you to actually display in how you carry and represent yourself.
In our book on building a fanbase, we discuss the “why” behind the special connection between artists and their core fans as:
People will connect with your art and people will appreciate your talent, but a relatable personality has always been important in moving the masses. Personality extends past your music to your overall presentation from how you dress to how you communicate. It can be brash, like a Kanye West, it can elegant like a Beyonce, it can be larger than life like a Lady Gaga.
Art work by Helen Green from Haus of Gaga
Perhaps, this is most noticeable in presidential elections. The candidates who focus too much on image and not enough on policy and their vision, often lose. Candidates who are all substance, but can’t personally connect with an audience, don’t tend to get far either. Which is why there is so much focus on a balance of the two. People often say, “I want a candidate who is smart, has my best interest at heart, can lead, but I also want to feel like I can get a beer with them.”
However, as time goes on what people want in the package changes. Where there used to be a need in politics to be super polished, clean cut, and diplomatic, there now is a craving from the people for authenticity and at times an edge.
The same has been seen in artists as well, so it’s not a concept reserved for politics. In fact artists have been much quicker to recognize and adapt to this. We’ve seen it in the way differences between boy bands of old to now. Where boy bands had to constantly walk the straight and narrow, maintain a perfect image even with matching outfits or with each member fitting a specific persona for fans, so fans could latch on to the one like them or the one they wanted to be. Now, it’s rare to even see a boy band.
People are over the overly manufactured image. Fans look up to and admire the grand talent and performance, but they don’t so much relate to manufactured personas. They want something they perceive as real, imperfect, unfiltered, honest, but most of all, relatable.
At the end of the day, remember that you need to establish your values and vision, but you need to be strategic about how it’s communicated and who is doing that communication. You’re walking a line of connecting while also conveying a sense of esteem.
Let Your Fans Contribute
After you communicate your grandeur values, aspirational vision and embodied it within your personality, the next piece is to give invite your fans contribute.
Encourage them to play a role in reaching that aspirational goal and satisfying aspiration identity that drew them to you in the first place. This goes back to pillar 1 of creating a brand, which is creating a sense of community or belonging, but it also includes demonstrating how your music fits into and enhances their lives, and create a way for fans to act on their aspirations, whether it’s through challenges, meetups, chances for shoutout, whatever other engagement activities you think up.
It’s not an easy feat to create a sense grandeur and develop an aspirational brand. It’s an ambitious ingredient to the marketing mix to try to incorporate. But if you provide an aspirational goal and allow fans to individually connect with you, then creating an aspirational brand with a sense of grandeur can give you a real edge in the industry and allow you to continue to build an engaged and strong core fanbase.