Citizen Brand
by Marc Gobe
reviewed by Andrea Dunowski

Following the success of his book Emotional Branding: The New Paradigm for Connecting Brands to People, Marc Gobe further explores the concept of emotional branding with his new book, Citizen Brand. In light of the recent terrorist attacks in the US, anti-globalization efforts and war in the middle east, Gobe sympathetically acknowledges how such events have forever altered the globe in all aspects, from the way we do business to the way we feel and think. Gobe initially discusses the concept “a consumer society”, the rise of anti brand literature, protests, and resentment towards the Western world as well as the ongoing divide between the rich and poor nations.

The book title that the author has coined, refers to a renewed status of brand, a brand that strives to acquire and maintain a long term emotional relationship with people, the surrounding community and society.

Gobe highlights in his introduction, “The focus here is not necessarily to provide any cut and dry answers or draw a dramatic conclusion, but to challenge the present in order to better understand the future. I will rely on what a designer is best at: cross societal observations, assessing technological changes and the role culture, art and communications have and will play as prophets and ambassadors of a changed universe.”

Gobe adheres to three specific traits that emotional brands share:

  1. A great corporate culture focused above all on people, both in office and the public community;

  2. A communication style and philosophy that stands out from the crowd;

  3. An emotional hook that draws us in - their promise.

The author presents his research and foresight through means of Ten Evolutionary Commandments on which organizations should structure and redirect their future efforts towards becoming a "Citizen Brand."

Here is a sample of some of the Evolutionary Commandments included in Gobe’s book:

Chapter 1: Evolve From Consumer to People:

This section looks into achieving awareness of a changing society from an increase and change in minority group representation, to the Six Fundamental Trends of Our Times such as Sweet Home: There‘s No Place Like Home and Awakening: Soul Seeking through Sensation. It also explores love-based vs. fear-based marketing, paradigm shifts between baby boomers, Generation X and Y and how women’s buying power and needs have and will continue to grow.

Chapter 3: Evolve From Product to Experience:

In this chapter, Gobe initiates the “question of how to expand beyond a mere product-offering status to create an exciting, emotionally relevant brand experience that will bring the brand alive for people in a way that truly contributes to their lives”. The concept of brand associated amusements and theme parks, museums and the growing concept of stores as “cultural destinations” and “public spaces” is discussed.

Chapter 6: Evolve From Identity to Personality:

The transition from Corporate Identity to Emotional Identity is examined, stressing the importance of establishing emotional ties with the consumer and the surrounding community. Gobe also looks at nurturing brand personalities, the humanization of corporate leader, and the need to invoke emotions and reveal an organization’s values and ethics to develop deeper connections with the public. This section brings into account how a company’s logo, colors, and unique vision should all be part of the emotional identity process.

Chapter 7: Evolve From Function to Feel:

From sensorial design to the subject of aestheticism, Gobe confronts the dynamics of how practicality is no longer enough to determine the integrity of a brand. He discusses how art, beauty, and design are craved and desired by people within all economic groups. From the creative redefinition of the corporate environment to such concepts as the spatial harmony of feng shui, ergonomics, and brand customization, Gobe interprets art as deepening the relationship between organizations and people, bringing human attributes and emotional aspects into the equation.

Chapter 10: Evolve From Service to Relationship:

This last section mentions the area most organizations tend to focus solely on - customer service. Gobe stresses that the key to great customer service is to “establish this humanistic, emotionally sensitive relationship with people“. He talks about how, amongst a technologically advanced society, the value of personal service has dramatically increased as well as the invaluable benefit of redeveloping “Passionate Employees as Brand Ambassadors”. Gobe advises organizations in “creating a strong internal culture of pride” within the organization through social cause projects and volunteer work for employees.

Citizen Brand is a fresh, innovative, right-brained perspective on the development of the emotional brand. It is not so much about forward thinking, but forward feeling, going beyond logical and analytical solutions, interpreting the dynamics of the community, and understanding the emotional aspect of people. It is about scoping the sphere around the business, exploring untouched territory, and allowing intuition and perception to replace linear thinking. It is essential for an organization to not only be aware of present trends but also to develop future trends for customers, to predict needs before the awareness of those needs even exists, and then to nurture those needs in their customers sincerely.

Emotional branding is a continuous, infinite process; a business infrastructure that must be constantly built upon. As such, organizations must realize that long term dedication is crucial to experience both immediate and long-term benefits.

Gobe creatively succeeds in providing both an interesting read and excellent resource for employees at all levels of an organization and for any individual interested in redeveloping and enhancing their perception of brands and brand development.

Citizen Brand Citizen Brand: 10 Commandments for Transforming Brands in a Consumer Democracy
by Marc Gobe
Allworth Press,
October 2002

Andrea Dunowski has international experience in communications, public relations, event coordination and event marketing with several leading firms and is a contributing editor to The CEO Refresher. Contact Andrea c/o The CEO Refresher .

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Copyright 2003 by Andrea Dunowski. All rights reserved.

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