A recent Adweek article discussed how brands are using non-traditional marketing and advertising strategies to target students going back to school, especially those in college.

One key takeaway from the article is how these brands are using their advertising efforts in part to align themselves with specific moments within a student’s time at college. As seen in the image below, such brands as Tide are looking to become the brand connection with moments like the first time a student does their laundry.

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There have been many words written and discussed about the importance of emotional connection in branding, where brands set forth a goal to establish an emotional bond with a consumer over time. But these brands are going even bigger, looking to not only fill the space with a consumer in the moment, but also needing to create the inclination to connect a brand to that moment.

Most consumers don’t naturally have a specific brand in mind when they are performing normal, everyday tasks. You need to load the dishwasher? Your mindset is normally more on the task itself than what brand dishwasher soap you will need to buy.

This is where moment branding does the heavy lifting.

As previously mentioned, the first goal of successful moment branding is to establish the brand connection. Make your brand THE first thought of an individual in the moment, surpassing the general, task-focused mindset that naturally exists. For instance, the “defining moments” image connects “signing first lease” with Citi. For the majority of first-time home owners, their mind is full of thoughts of down payments, mortgage fees, interest rates, etc. In other words, far from thinking of what brand they can leverage.

By positioning themselves as the expert/top brand in the space, Citi can move themselves up the mindset pecking order, grabbing a portion of the thought process, and in turn raising the profile of their overall brand.

A level of emotional connection cannot be ignored, however. This is the bridge from moment to brand. It’s not enough to simply associate yourself with a task such as laundry, but you must become that moment’s iconic brand. Settling for second place only ensures that your competition will reap the benefits of the moment. It takes work to make the moment brand-worthy, there isn’t enough available to hope that the consumer considers all of the brand options.

We all remember our first time cooking in the dorms, and at the same time, can remember what our first requirement for deciding what to cook – ease. College students with limited culinary skills and equipment are less concerned with the intricacies of cooking; they want something easy and fast. Kraft, in their moment branding efforts, saw this as an opportunity to connect. Their “Easy Mac” and other dorm-friendly options were situated ideally for the audience and the moment. Therefore, Kraft positioned these brands as the go-to for college chefs.

Done successfully, moment branding can have long-lasting and wide-ranging impacts on a brand and on consumer mindsets. Our lives are full of both significant and mundane moments, each of which possesses the potential for brand connection. Once we begin associating specific brands with each moment, these brands will have one less person to try and market to, as they have become synonymous with our lives.

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