My grandmother always had one of those vintage blue tins of Nivea cream on top of her dresser. When I grew up, I preferred modern cream options, like ‘Romance‘ by Ralph Lauren and ‘Heavenly‘, by Victoria’s Secret. But I have to confess that every time I stop by a pharmacy and see the Nivea cream, I can’t help but buy one.

Why Am I Still Buying Nivea?

In past articles, I have mentioned that, before even trying to sell a product, brands need to understand the consumers’ psychological needs. Nivea is an example of how brands capitalize on people’s emotions.

Brand imagery is all the intangible reasons that move us to choose a product. For example, I keep buying my grandma’s favorite cream because of the abstract meaning of Nivea in my mind.

Some of those intangibles that make people purchase are History, Heritage, and Personal experiences. I put a Nivea cream on top of my nightstand because it transports me in time. By looking at that cream every night before sleeping, I feel close to someone who loved me more than anyone else has.

In the book The Science of Branding, I found the logical explanation to this feeling: Many kinds of intangibles can be linked to a brand. The author Mark R. Prus describes that usual intangible associations are:

1. Family/shared experiences/maternal

2. Multipurpose

3. Classic/timeless, and

4. Childhood memories.

Classic Brands and Association

Classic brands like Nivea, Coca Cola, Jell-O, Kellogg’s, Hershey’s, or Chevrolet evoke imagery associations from our past experiences and childhood memories. These associations may be created intentionally by the company or just unintentionally by a consumer’s intimate experience.

Reversing an Association

Conversely, some brands need to do a reverse association, like in the case of Gillette. One of the most touching ads I have seen is: Gillette’s campaign “The Best Man Can Be”, against bullying and harassment.

Gillette’s ads are famous because they promote the intangible of masculinity to sell the idea of product superiority. However, after the rise of movements that reject masculine superiority, Gillette came out with a campaign called “The Best Man Can Be” The brand wanted to be relevant to the actual circumstances and created the ad in support of the “Me Too” movement, against harassment.

If you want to build a strong brand, before making any decisions, you must understand what the brand means to consumers. An experienced brand manager will be able to assess the various perceptions, beliefs, or attitudes that consumers may associate with their brand.

Do you have any intangible association with a brand? Did you identify any similar traits? If you find my article useful or think it might help a friend, please share it. Let me know about your story and goals. I’m here to listen.

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Ivanna Planet - 45 posts

Ivanna is a marketing specialist whose passion is traveling to exotic destinations. As a journalist in Latin America, she has reported news on business and politics.

Brand Management