Branding for sentimentality

A lot of people have a favorite cup, one that they use religiously, or one that they display like a trophy in a cabinet or on a shelf.  But as a marketer, you have to wonder; what is it that makes a cup become someone’s favorite?  It could be the size, shape, or color.  Perhaps it’s the way it grips, or the way that the cup feels against their lips.  Or, maybe the cup has sentimental value, or it holds nostalgia to a cherished person, place, or time in their lives.


Either way, chances are you cannot market that specific cup to everyone.  Each person has unique sentiments towards their unique cup.  It’s a seemingly benign object with no quantifiable values that hold it above any others – that is to say, a cup very seldom has a unique selling point, and rarely will it gain the honor of becoming someone’s “favorite”.


Cups are not really anything special. We’ve had cups for centuries, and they only seem to serve a utilitarian purpose.  They are a vessel by which we carry food or drink.  A vessel that carries the thing we actually desire.  So really, the desirable goods are not the cups themselves, but the content by which we as individuals fill them with – they are white-labeled to serve whatever purpose we choose them to serve: we, the consumers, are in charge of the cup.


I believe that a brand is like a cup.  They are a vessel by which consumers are able to access the content or products that they truly desire – entertainment, chocolate, fashion, etc. No matter what the product is, the brand is simply the vessel.  So, if the brands are merely like a cup to the consumer, how do they position themselves as a trustworthy vessel; one that warrants the classification of their “favorite”?


Simple. In all the examples of what could warrant someone to classify a cup as their favorite, one thing is unanimous – the cup makes them feel good.  There’s an emotional response when we use things of sentimental nature, and that feeling is immediately juxtaposed with what we are using it for.  Using a cup you hate to drink tea will be less pleasant than using your favorite cup to drink the same thing.  So it’s the job of marketers, agencies, creative directors, art directors, and designers to constantly express the correct emotional feeling that you get when using your favorite cup, promising to be the consumer’s favorite brand.  And when someone has a favorite brand, they become advocates for that brand, and they spread the word and encourage others that they will also love that brand.