Posted in strategy + insights - Dec 29, 2010

All Great Brands Have One Thing In Common: Personal Connection

by Jessica Marinucci
Dec 29, 2010

Throughout December we’ve been talking a lot about branding and I thought it would be fun to find out what brands my fellow creatives here at Gate6 hold near and dear to their hearts.

Initially, as I set about this lovely task, I figured I’d see a lot of similarities across the board, with most people generally gravitating toward the same brands. However, to my surprise, there were only two brands that managed to show up more than once: Apple and Target.

This little survey showed me two things:
1. The best brands are the ones that invoke specific emotions, in a varying array of consumers, beyond what they actually sell or offer.
2. Brands are all about personal human connections. If your brand can connect how you want it to, then you’re really on to something.

As you read I hope you’ll notice the amazing level of intimacy and passion in each person’s voice as he or she shares the love for his or her favorite brands. Each one of the brands mentioned has succeeded in emotionally connecting on some level with a consumer. In my opinion, this is the mark of branding success — brand advocates and brand ambassadors.


1. IKEA – Weirdly Swedish, in a good way. From the stacked VW bug to the herd of cats and a blogger living in one of their store sets for a month, they always keep it memorable, without going into the awful Mentos territory.
2. Lady Gaga – No one masters emerging media and calls it her bitch like this lady. For someone so young, she’s very savvy and I can’t wait to see what she does next.
3. Lacoste – For an old preppy brand, they have kept their brand fun and relevant for a very long time. They’ve done a great job of keeping their product line light hearted and simple, even as they expand and diversify into accessories.


1.) Ford Motor Co. – Been a Ford man all my life. Love the brand, love the logo, and love the product… (FirstOnRaceDay)
2.) Apple – I love nothing more blindly or unconditionally. Superior product with quality and integrity that is part of the fabric of my life.
3.) Newman’s – Love Paul Newman and his natural wholesome ingredients — they make me feel safe.


1. Scion – ‘Cause I drive one…they must be awesome!
2. Obey – Liked it ever since I did a paper on Shepard Fairey in college. He started the brand by accident when he was showing a friend how to make a stencil using André the Giant’s face – it sort of evolved from there through guerrilla marketing. To this day I still rock the obey belt buckle with André the Giant’s face.
3. Target – I love them! I like to think of them as the classy Walmart.


Melissa –

1. GEICO – Although I’m not a GEICO customer, I love this brand’s playfulness and great use of tongue-in-cheek humor. I think the gecko is brilliant and I love the other spokesperson: “Can GEICO save you 15% or more on car insurance? Well, do woodchucks really chuck wood?” Awesome and, as you can see, I remember it verbatim. I always watch their ads because they’re fun, funny, and unexpected.
2. Target – I love shopping at the store and I appreciate the way they’ve reinvented themselves as a hip place to shop. They used to be seen as similar to Kmart and Walmart, but their trendy and memorable ad campaigns and clear, consistent messaging set them apart as a much more upscale shopping alternative.

3. Starbucks – What can I say? Going to Starbucks is always a warm, fuzzy experience for me. In fact, just seeing that familiar green circle on someone’s paper coffee cup makes my mouth water for a toffee nut latte. I love their coffee and the fact that everywhere I go, even in Europe, it always tastes the same. I love their new line of upscale eats – by far and away the best fast breakfast out there. And I really love the brand’s personality. To me, it’s become synonymous with indulgence, comfort, and warmth.


1. Levis – How many brands, and even more specifically clothing brands, can say they’ve been the “coolest” or one of the coolest brands during every generation of American culture over the last 135+ years! When your name becomes synonymous with the product you provide, I’d say you’ve achieved success.
2. Nike – Just do it. They’ve shaped the culture of athletics and fitness around the world. If you didn’t have Nikes growing up, you probably weren’t that cool. The swoosh is simply a symbol of excellence.
3. Mercedes Benz – A symbol of sophistication and class all around the world. Driving a Benz is a statement: “I’m somebody!”

What are some your favorite brands and why? Did any of yours make this list? Feel free to comment or leave us an inbox message.