About a year ago I was watching an interview with Rand Fishkin, the founder of Moz and more recently Spark Toro. He started talking about affinity and how a tactic they started using created a huge amount of brand affinity.
Brand affinity wasn’t something I’d considered up until I saw this interview with Rand.
I read a ton of articles during the course of the week about digital marketing and public relations. I rarely see anything talking about brand affinity but it’s an important concept you should always consider.
You know the big brands. Coke. Ford. Toyota. Apple. Google. Starbucks. McDonald’s. Nike. I could go on and on but the point is when say those words, you know immediately who I’m talking about and what they sell.
That’s the power of brand awareness. It’s what companies strive for. You hear a name or see a logo and its instant recognition.
It’s probably not a surprise that companies with that kind of recognition these companies tend to make billions.
This is likely why in the many conversations I’ve had with prospects and clients there is a big concern around awareness. They see companies with huge brand awareness and want some too because they see the money being made.
It’s the same problem I see with people who chase celebrity. They see celebrity and money as going hand in hand. The problem with both of these examples is that it’s a fallacy.
When I lived in Los Angeles years ago, the people that I saw as celebrities didn’t always live in a mansion and drive an exotic car. Some lived in North Hollywood instead of Beverly Hills.
Yes, you want brand awareness. There is an importance to it but it’s not the end of the game, it’s the beginning and doesn’t guarantee that you will make money. Even once you have the awareness you crave it’s more likely that you will be living in North Hollywood instead of Beverly Hills.
I’m aware of Budweiser but I don’t drink it. I’m aware of McDonald’s but I don’t eat there. I’m aware of Samsung but I don’t own anything they make. In fact, my awareness of these companies on a scale falls into negative territory.
There are probably many companies that you are aware of but don’t like so see awareness for it is. People know who you are.
Think of it this way: Awareness is fame but fame doesn’t equal money.
The key is to take the awareness you have and turn it into brand affinity.
What is Affinity?
Before we get into brand affinity, let’s first talk about affinity. Once you understand affinity you’ll understand it when it is applied to a brand.
I went to Dictionary.com and found the following definition for affinity: a natural liking for or attraction to a person, thing, idea, etc.
You can have an affinity for anything. It could be a sports team, a music group, a website, an actress or actor, a movie series, a television show, a type of car, or even a topic. Again, the list could go on and on.
I have an affinity for music. I spend a fair amount of time each week looking for new artists and music to check out. I do searches. I follow musicians, music publications, music clubs, and music organizations. I love talking about music. Instead of watching TV, I can sit and just listen to music for hours.
One of my favorite drummers is Jeff Porcaro. I have an affinity for his playing. Jeff played with the band Toto but he also did studio work up until his untimely death in 1992. Because Jeff played with literally hundreds of different artists, I’ve spent a good chunk of time (and money) chasing down the tracks that he played on over the years (I’m listening to a playlist of songs Jeff played on as I write this).
Since this is a marketing communications blog this leads us back to how affinity impacts your organization.
What is Brand Affinity?
I have a friend, Whitney, who has a strong affinity for The Umbrella Academy. She sent me a picture of her display of Umbrella Academy Funko Pop’s and she went all out. It’s an impressive display.
The Umbrella Academy may have started as a comic but it evolved into a brand. There is now a television show and an array of merchandise. Harry Potter, Star Wars, and Marvel may have started as entertainment but they all turned into brands as well.
I knew Whitney liked The Umbrella Academy television show but I realized it was brand affinity when I saw the picture of her display. Only somebody with great affinity would have spent the time to create this nice of a display for Funko Pop’s.
Brand affinity is really just an affinity for a brand. You really like the brand and it feels natural.
I used to go to work and I’d be on a PC all day. When I got home I’d be on my Mac and I had very different feelings about them.
The PC was just a PC. I got work done on it. I got work done on my Mac too but it felt like an experience.
That was in part what created my affinity for Apple. Their products were easy to use and more fun than a PC experience plus they were the underdog.
Importance Of Brand Affinity
I talked about Moz at the beginning of the article and a tactic they used to create brand affinity. The tactic is a video series called Whiteboard Friday in which a member of the Moz team or a guest talks about a search engine optimization (SEO) concept.
The content isn’t really that much different than what would be written about in a blog post showing it as a video changes it. Reading a blog SEO can be interesting but it can also be a little dry because of its technical nature. Having a real person explain the concepts makes it feel completely different. It’s easier to relate to a person on screen than it is words on a page.
Whiteboard Friday is one of my favorite features on the Moz blog and it has helped me see them as more than just a faceless company. Prior to watching Whiteboard Friday, it was just another SEO company. After watching, it was Moz.
When you have an affinity for something you feel a connection and it can happen with anything including a brand. It’s why Whitney collects The Umbrella Academy merchandise in addition to watching the show. It’s why I chase down tracks Jeff Porcaro plays on. It’s why you only use that one brand and nothing else. It’s not just loyalty, it’s affinity.
You start to see the brand as something more because you feel a connection. Funny thing, people are more likely to buy, to recommend, to evangelize when they like something.
The next time you are creating that piece of content whether it be a blog post, a video, or even a piece of paid media, think of how it can help you create something more than awareness. Think of how it will help you create brand affinity.