Social Symphony

Building Brand Love -- The Purpose Behind Purpose

Gunther Koo - Wednesday, October 30, 2013

The announcement by Walmart that they are investing $50,000,000,000 into American manufacturing over the next ten years triggered in my brain the Bonnie Raitt classic song, “Something to Talk About.”

Why would Walmart be spending this enormous amount of money now? Why would Walmart decide now that the best way they can invest $50 billion is in American manufacturing? What tea leaves are they looking at? What insights do they have?

They see the power of reputation everyday, of people texting, sharing, posting, talking, and spreading opinions, facts and emotions like wildfire on social tools. They realize to win in the future that they need to activate their full brand purpose, not to just help people save money but to accentuate how Walmart helps people live a better life.


This mystery conversation around the $50B in the end, makes Walmart look good because it truly isgood. The chatter about the why they put up $50B will get lost in the good it achieves over time. They must migrate their brand purpose to communicate that people don’t just want the cheapest price; they also want Uncle Billy to get a job.

This gets to the root of the conversation about Walmart and the press they have received that they have been a key driver of jobs leaving the US. It gets at what people truly care about… each other, their community and their country. Walmart is truly trying to reverse that trend of outsourcing, by building community and making heartfelt connections with people.

Walmart’s purpose: “We save people money so they can live a better life” is made stronger, broader, deeper, more defensible and critically, more real in this social world. The bet is that they can bend the narrative, that they can create a new conversation, a positive narrative at the same time that social explodes and becomes more dominant in all our lives over the next ten years. The $50B is an investment not a donation.


My company, the Social Symphony, presented at the ANA in New York last week to a members only group of brand managers. The topic was “Building Brand Love.” When we asked each manager how they felt when people told them they loved their brand, they universally replied with a big smile a sense of accomplishment, of relief, of satisfaction. They loved it.

When we asked them, how do you build brand love in social everyday, it felt confusing, uncomfortable. We were speaking of love in a language not typical within the marketing lexicon. Not serious. Talking about building brand love was something their culture did not support. That culture finds comfort in talking about a new campaign, a cool slogan, a video, a big idea and all with legal approval. Does that sound like true love?

The insight in this social age is that it feels great and it’s easy to accept love but giving love can be much harder. How does a brand show their love with authenticity, with truth in a way that will draw more and more people towards them and generate their love to attract more and more people? If a brand can build the capability to make people feel love from them, they will be more successful using social channels. Now your love is viral.


Our big opportunity today is the availability of people’s attention on multiple social platforms where brands can make deeper and richer connections and build and grow relationships over time. To win, brands need to create a mindset and a language internally so that they will always be appropriate, meaningful, always resonate, and always strike a chord everyday, day in and day out.

This is building brand love people to people. Done right, people will feel it, be moved and share their passion, their emotion, their life, their humanity.

And that feels like true love.


Gunther Koo - Wednesday, May 02, 2012

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.”
  • • McDonalds:- “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.