Challenges and Opportunities of Taking a Feminine Approach to Branding
The 21st century is truly one of the most exciting times in human history. There is more equality, more acceptance, and a better understanding of the diversity in the world. There’s one more phenomenon that defines the 21st century, perhaps more than anything else – women empowerment. We have been hearing this word for decades without perhaps truly understanding its full implications.
Moving beyond the masculine approach of branding
Traditionally, branding has been men-centric; think of the Marlboro man or the thousands of automobile advertisements that appealed to masculinity. Branding history is full of examples of such ‘manly’ approaches. Of course, there have been some notable exceptions- DeBeers was one of the first companies to ‘talk’ to women with their ‘Diamonds are forever’ campaign. More recently, Dove came up with their brilliant ‘Campaign for real beauty’. But the examples are too few and too sparse to create a lasting trend.
The scales are at a tipping point now. More and more women are becoming parts of the mainstream, driving decisions and creating opportunities. More importantly for brands, their spending power is increasing by leaps and bounds. Between 1995 and 2015, an average woman’s spending capacity has increased by 27% while for men, that number is a paltry 0.6%. It’s estimated that sometime within the next two decades, women will be earning more than men on an average.
Building brands for the XX chromosome
Brands need to be careful in their approaches for the female population. They have to speak to them without pandering, treat them differently without alienating them, and talk about them without patronising them. It’s a lot trickier than it sounds.
- Don’t pink-wash everything. A pink laptop with a bunny sticker does not appeal to women. If anything, that’s morbidly
- Women are now more aspirational than ever. Some of them are running the biggest companies in the world while others are leading their respective countries. In short, the partition between the home and the world has crumbled for women. Companies need to be mindful of this aspirational facet of women while branding.
- Studies have shown that women form stronger emotional bonds with brands that put in the effort to engage in their lives and address the challenges they face. The aforementioned ‘Campaign for real beauty’ by Dove is one of the modern marketing success stories because it was an honest and beautiful depiction of real women overcoming the perceived flaws of appearance. It has been 15 years since that campaign was rolled out and marketers still talk about it.
- Don’t pander to women. Don’t try too hard to please them. They can usually smell hogwash from a mile away. Be genuine and authentic in your approach to branding and do it subtly. Women appreciate these traits in a brand.
Ask any of the branding firms, and they’ll tell you that branding for women is not all that different. You just need to listen to and understand what they are trying to say. For much of history, their voices have not been heard. It’s time that brands don’t repeat the same mistake.