Embracing Possibility: Why Glamour Fuels Your Vision for Success

BeatsI don’t know about you, but I’ve always been a big fan of top brands. Part of the reason is that I’ve found that the premium you pay is often worth it. But I’m also cautious.  So, as I’m now in the market for Bluetooth headphones, I’ve been reading and watching a lot of reviews. Among the models I’ve been looking at is Beats By Dre Wireless Headphones. Interestingly, in his review Kevin Nether said some things that struck me as compelling, and set me thinking about the power for branding – especially what makes for our emotional connection to brands we love.

Specifically, he noted that after being introduced by Dr. Dre, Beats headphones gained visibility via Hip Hop producers and celebrities as well as product placement. He went on to explain that over time, these headphones have become more of a fashion statement, “rather than a premium audio set up.”  While making the point that the product doesn’t skimp, he says,  “You end up paying more because it has a Beats logo on it, point blank, period.” [Tweet this]

And as you may already know, countless people do!

Branding and Glamour

Up to now, I’ve taken emotional connection to brands for granted, and not looked any deeper. Yet, in recently reading Virginia Postrel’s The Power of Glamour, I’m getting a deeper appreciation of the emotional connection we have to our favorite brands. Fundamentally, the attraction starts with the glamour conveyed by the brand. That is, with its power to tap our longings, even if only barely formed, it gives them an object of focus. It is pleasurable, even if only for a few moments.  Glamour can make an object attractive. Yet, glamour is double edged.  [Tweet this] As Postrel says:

“Glamour is an illusion and, according to its critics, a dangerous snare. But because it recognizes and concentrates real desires, the mirage can also prove a valuable, life-enhancing inspiration. Glamour, we can now say, is … an illusion “known to be false but felt to be true.” It focuses inchoate desires and embodies them in the image or idea of a person, a setting, an artifact, or occasionally a concept. By inviting projection and making the ideal feel attainable, the glamorous image intensifies longing and, in some cases, moves the audience to action.”

If you think about it, what’s attracted you to particular brands goes beyond packaging and promotion. Rather, what makes a brand attractive is it’s promise of transformation. [Tweet this]

That transformation is very likely multifaceted, but also includes how the product bolsters your social status and sense of identity. As Nether points out in his Beats review, “…let me tell you, people comment, ask to listen, and even give me awkward fist pumps because I’m wearing Beats. It seems like there is a silent camaraderie when purchasing Beats headphones, with other owners and people who just envy you.”

While quality and the underlying performance of a brand matter, loyalty is more about the added benefits the brand provides. And perhaps one of the most powerful benefits is the sense of exclusivity that comes from being an insider. In fact, the glamour of a brand also taps a desire for fellowship and belonging. [Tweet this] It’s not that people merely envy you, it’s that they see a bond of shared community. You can see this in operation in a widely diverse array of brand communities – from Apple Stores to Harley Owners Groups!

Beyond the Unimagined Life

As you’ve no doubt heard, Greek philosopher Socrates once said the unexamined life is not worth living.  Yet, have you ever stopped to consider the value of the unimagined life? I’ll bet you haven’t. Because, as a human being, you regularly tap into a powerful engine of imagination. It’s called story.

Stories, both other people’s and the one’s we tell ourselves, are key to our survival. We’re wired for story. We live in story. Stories teach us, entertain us, and inspire us. They show us what we can do in life, and often move us to action. In this way, story can drive transformation. And so can glamour. [Tweet this]

Catwalk Ready

As with story, the essential elements of glamour are a promise of escape and transformation, grace, and mystery. Each, in its own way, serves the illusion that is glamour but also it’s appeal. Interestingly, glamour is meant to hide the details, to keep us at a distance. It is the runway show, not the tailoring. Yet, it is this very distance that supports an ideal extension of self. Glamour fires our imagination, and creates a possibility we can live into. [Tweet this]

It’s a Vision Thing

Let’s face it. While you respond to it, glamour is just not something you ordinarily think about. And when you do, you may tend to think of it as a fantasy, or even trivial. After all, because glamour is an illusion, it’s dream like. And yet, what is a vision if not an expression of a longing for a better world? On some level, it seems fair to say that glamour and vision are two sides of one of the same coin. Each enables a broad-brush promise of future fulfillment, leaving us to work out the details for ourselves. As Postrel concludes:

“… the American Dream is an exercise in glamour and, however illusory the dream may sometimes be, the country is better off for the inspiration. When used as a guide rather than as an impossibly perfect goal in itself, glamour can point its audience toward a better, more satisfying life…”

If you haven’t noticed the longings that glamour stirs in you, it may be time you did.

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How does glamour enrich your life? What are the possibilities you are living in to? Just leave a comment. I’d love to know.

Comments

  1. says

    Another great article Walter!

    I’ve always been interested in why some people will go out of their way to tell others how happy they are to pay a high price or use a certain glamour brand. Many will brag about how much money they spent for their Dre’s Beats, Bentley, or to even have the chance to pay the highest hourly rate to the most expensive lawyer in town. So long as a certain name is associated with the product or service, they’re happy and the high price is not a concern. In fact, it’s actually an asset.

    I think this type of phenomena is human nature and smart business owners should recognize this and take the glamour aspect into consideration during the design, marketing and sales price process. There’s actually a proven approach to adding the glamour aspect to a product or service (Google this) and smart business and professionals should, for obvious reasons, incorporate this into their business model.

    One more thing, people shouldn’t wait for permission to create, market and sell their glamour product. Many are already offering such an item but they just don’t know it. Their own self-limiting thoughts prevent the glamour aspect from ever taking place.

  2. says

    Hey Mitch!! Thanks for your astute comment.

    I agree that there are many people who go out of their way to tell others what they had to pay for a glamour brand or service. After all, not only do they gain the one-upmanship that the information provides, but have also enhanced their social status by joining the people who form the brand’s community.

    And yes! For business owners, this can definitely be an asset. In fact, I think this is what Chris Brogan means by that “velvet rope” experience. It’s what insiders get, and after all, many people want to be insiders! So, in addition to the visible branding of those little Beats and Bentley “B” logos, there is the sense of belonging too!

    Clearly, glamour is attractive and adds value that people are willing to pay for. Yet, sadly many business people do miss the opportunity to capture it. And yes, as you point out, the root cause seems to be those self-limiting thoughts. Yet, I would add one more element: The need to get beyond “good enough” in order to create a high-quality user experience. Frankly, the bells and whistles that make a product or service appear glamorous can quickly fade if there is no built in pleasure connected to using it.

    As Virginia Postrel points out, while glamour is largely illusion, it can also be transformative. When a brand can create an experience that truly is transformative, it is well worth the cost!!

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