David Aaker: high quality print experience offers "on-brand' context

Submitted by: Print Power 21/01/2014

David Aaker, the authority on brands, recently mentioned on his blog that "the challenge for brands is to showcase the brand in a context that is on-brand and supporting its vision". His view is that "print has a place in powerful brand expression".

Read below the full article that is called the Power of Print


Read below the full article that is called the Power of Print

A few days ago I received two items in the mail that caught my eye and reminded me of the power of print: A Tiffany & Co. catalog, and WSJ. Magazine. The Tiffany & Co. catalog was in glossy booklet form but was so well-designed and eye-appealing that I was immediately drawn in. Incredible, creative Tiffany designs were photographed impeccably. The jewelry was surrounded by settings and visual stories that involved a man and a woman in a meaningful relationship, with the occasional dog or staircase making an appearance. The title page had the words “The Perfect Holiday Comes Wrapped in Blue” presented on the classic Tiffany blue background. The first page opens with a picture of the Tiffany blue box with the line “There is such a thing as the perfect present.” Each page had descriptive and of ten poetic text. The rose bracelet was accompanied with “Tiffany designers honor the beauty of nature with a magnificent rose.” It provided a sensory experience.

It should get people their stores or, more likely, onto their website, which has the mailer material in both print and video form. The video generates an even deeper experience. The website portrays its collections, tells the story of it heritage, makes gift suggestions, allows customers to order items and much more. But the mailer reaches a highly targeted audience that otherwise would not have entered a store or clicked on the Tiffany & Co. website organically. This audience needed a push, which is exactly what they received in the mail.

WSJ. Magazine is a glossy, monthly luxury lifestyle magazine that was created in 2008 by The Wall Street Journal. Its articles are topical, substantive and frequently involve big names. The ads are themselves works of art and feature the most prestigious names in fashion. It is a magazine in which you pursue the ads themselves and the implicit fashion tips inside them.

Brands not only get a boost from mere exposure to the sizeable WSJ audience but also from the setting. Early in my career, I did a study that showed that an ad with an image did substantially better with respect to its perceived quality if the setting was Vogue instead of Sunset. The setting says a lot about the relevance of a brand to the luxury lifestyle audience.

The challenge is to showcase your brand in a context that is on-brand and supporting its vision. A storefront such as Apple and Tiffany can do that. However, most brands cannot afford that luxury. But the in-store experience only reaches a small percentage of the potential customer base. How can a brand present its offerings in an “on-brand” context? Providing a high-quality print experience such as in the Tiffany & Co. catalog or an ad in WSJ. Magazine could be the answer.

I have written elsewhere about the customer sweet spot. The idea is that instead of talking about your brand or your offering, you look to what the customer is interested in and make your brand a partner. If the branded offering is embedded in the customer sweet spot program, i.e. Kaiser and healthy living, so much the better. But it doesn’t have to be – just look at the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer. The power of the Tiffany & Co. catalog and WSJ. Magazine’s advertising is that they are involved in what their customers are passionate about, which places their brand message in a much better place. And these observations are not restricted to luxury brands. They could apply to any lifestyle brand such as Nike, Silver Oak Wine, WholeFoods Markets, Patagonia, etc.

The takeaway here is that print has a place in powerful brand expression. And you can control the context of the brand experience, because the experience is not perceived as a pitch but rather as a shared interest.

David Aaker | Prophet