Social is about aspirations: How to get people to aspire to your brand

Posted by Tom Troja on May 1st, 2012 at 10:00 am

A new study from PhaseOne Communications presented at the Advertising Research Foundation’s Re:think 2012, points to aspirations as the key for brands in social.

“The key factor is that brand messaging convey an idealized self or Me Statement embodied by the brand as the reason that users want to be associated with it. What draws people to affiliate publicly with a brand is the desire to send a message their social networks about how they want to be perceived.”


Conducted between July 2011 and January 2012, PhaseOne looked at 75 top brands across six vertical markets and analyzed the social media engagement of more than 20 top brands. Their top finding was that “users engage with a brand in social media based on how they want to be perceived,” says Dr. Lisa Allard, VP Special Projects.

Additionally, they found “in a successful ‘Me Statement,’ the brand is so wholly integrated into the message that the brand itself becomes the reflection of the idealized self. That identifying the right ‘Me Statement’ requires deep understanding of your target audience and your brand’s equity to identify the right idea that can bridge the two.”


  • Starbucks: “I pursue experiences that are uniquely me.”
  • Audi: “I live a modern, cutting-edge and high-end lifestyle.”
  • McDonald's:- “I am savvy; I know how to handle myself and get a good deal.”
  • Red Bull: “I am cool under pressure and can conquer any challenge.”
  • American Express: “I am in the know, doing cool stuff, and want to keep my friends in the loop.”

According to the study, “…being consistent across all platforms — the brand’s Web pages, Facebook page and advertising — are keys to being successful at social media engagement.   For example, Starbucks has integrated its appeal to a personalized experience across all consumer touch points, including its television advertising.”

Brand web pages and advertising are much easier to manager as they are not conversational in nature and the content doesn’t have to be refreshed each day. Each brand’s “Me Statement” above can be captured and displayed in their web pages, banner ads, commercials and repeated over time. Social conversation demands fresh posting multiple times each day. Where do you find that aspirational identity to be fresh day in and out across all social platforms? How do you crack open these “Me Statements” to give life to similar yet unique postings and be interesting every day?


Taking each of the “Me Statements” for brands above, you can find the root of an archetype. The question is, how do you claim relevance, dig deeper and find the brand clues that lead to this richer conversational identity for a brand? How do you use this to  orchestrate the day-in day-out demands of social marketing and not become redundant while still obtaining more and more shares, more likes, more comments… your KPI’s?

We find it in archetypes.  In their thousand-year-old stories of the Hero, the Explorer, the creator and the Ruler, they are by their nature aspirational.  These are already in people’s heads as people understand them at a cultural or unconscious level. Archetypes communicate content that we can all relate with, that we know to be true and to which many brands can lay claim.

Archetypal meaning is what makes brands come alive from an inanimate object, they make the brand human. They are the heartbeat of the brand as they convey a meaning that makes people feel the brand is alive, a part of us somehow. Archetypes are what we relate with emotionally, how we feel when we have the urge to buy.


We have found results similar to PhaseOne’s study in our work.  Brands aligning with their relevant archetypal core, is the sweet spot for brands in social. We are seeing more than 3x results in social engagement once the brand identifies their archetypes and starts to post them to conduct a conversational rhythm between the brand people.

Full disclosure… We’ve pioneered a process that gives the brand this fully formed conversational identity and voice based on your archetypal core, creating hundreds of powerful “Me Statements” for a brand listed above. This is not your fathers’ archetyping but one that reflects this new social age of multi-dimensional participation and conversation. We’re excited that research is supporting our core and look forward to helping brands succeed with making deeper , more meaningful connections with people.

One Response to “Social is about aspirations: How to get people to aspire to your brand”

  1. Teri Sawyer says:

    Thanks for an insightful story on this study. Social media is changing the world for us in Marketing & PR. We appreciate your insights.

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