Building a Brand Based on Emotions: Competition

Competition is something that most people feel at some point in their lives. Feeling like you need to compete with your siblings, colleagues, friends, and even strangers is universal. Today, “keeping up with the Joneses” and tapping into the feeling that people need to compete with one another is an effective marketing technique. Feeling the need to be better than others motivates consumers to purchase everything from specific brand jeans and cars to big screen televisions and gadgets. These days, it’s even important to have the right kind of coffee in your cup.


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building a brand based on emotionBuilding a brand based on emotions related to competition is one of the easier strategies that a brand can implement. That’s clear based on how many brands and products rely on selling the need to keep up or be better than others. The key to successfully selling competition is taking the time to develop the perception that your brand can deliver something that will make consumers better than their peers.

No one needs to have Starbucks coffee in their cups, but there is a perception that the Starbucks brand is cooler, richer, and better than other brands. The perception of the Starbucks brand is why consumers think they need it in order to be perceived by their peers as equal or better.

Therefore, perception matters in two ways when you’re selling feelings associated with competition:

  1. The perception from a consumer that your brand delivers something better than other brands and that “something” will make them feel and look equal to or better than their peers.
  2. The perception from the consumer’s peers that your brand successfully boosts the consumer to a level that is equal or better than the peers’ statuses.

Think about some brands that you’ve purchased in the past that were purchased primarily out of a feeling that you needed to compete with your peers. For example, it’s probably safe to say that the majority of iPhone and iPad owners purchased them at least in part due to feeling the need to keep up with the Joneses.

Feelings related to competition can also go hand in hand with a person’s desire to be a leader or be first. That’s why people stand in line at midnight to buy the newest iPhone. Appealing to emotions of competition are very effective in motivating consumers who like to be early adopters of new products, services, and brands.

Luxury Brands and Evoking Feelings of Competition

As you might expect, luxury brands often leverage the emotions evoked based on feelings of competition in advertising and marketing. Want to be better than everyone you know? Want to be envied by friends and strangers alike? Then no watch brand can help you achieve those feelings better than a Rolex. As you can see in the ad below, Rolex lets you “Live for Greatness.”

rolex ad

Coach, Louis Vuitton, Tiffany & Co. — all of these brands create a perception that having their branded products will make consumers feel like they’re better than their peers and will make consumers’ peers envy them. The Tiffany & Co. digital banner ad shown below makes it clear that the brand isn’t for everyone. It’s for “someone extraordinary.”

tiffany banner ad

Evoking Competitive Feelings for Non-Luxury Brands

craftsman sears adEliciting feelings related to competition is a natural fit for luxury brands, but it’s actually something that just about any brand can do. Have you gotten a tablet device yet — simply because everyone has one? Are you wearing “the right” jeans, carrying the right bag, and buying the right sneakers?

Even tools can be sold by leveraging feelings related to competition as you can see in the Craftsman ad to the right, which tells consumers they’ll be the envy of their suburban neighborhoods if they buy a Craftsman tractor.

Think about how you can create perceptions of competition in consumers’ minds for your brand. For some brands, it’s incredibly easy to do. For other brands, it will take some creative thinking, but it can be done!

If you missed other parts of the ongoing Building a Brand Based on Emotions series, follow the links below to read them now:


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Images: Abdulaziz Almansour, Rolex, Tiffany & Co., Sears

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Susan Gunelius
Susan Gunelius, MBA is a 25-year marketing and branding expert and President and CEO of KeySplash Creative, Inc., a marketing communications company. She is the author of 10 books about marketing, branding and social media, and her marketing-related articles appear on top media websites such as Entrepreneur.com and Forbes.com. She is also the Founder and Editor in Chief of WomenOnBusiness.com, an award-winning blog for business women.