What do brand affinity and Deadpool have in common? Ryan Reynolds.
When he’s not playing the foul-mouthed mercenary or winning over hearts, Ryan is also an entrepreneur building Aviation Gin.
Aviation Gin recently caught a lot of attention for creating the Marvel Cinematic Universe of TV commercials when they scooped up the actress from this blunder of a spot from Peloton. Try not to cringe.
Within 36 hours, Ryan and his team had filmed and distributed a new video with Monica Ruiz’s (the actress) face front and centre in the opening shot. Eyes teary, Monica hits the watering hole to drink away her pain with her two supportive friends. You’ll love this.
Exercise bike not included. #AviationGin pic.twitter.com/jYHW74h81l— Ryan Reynolds (@VancityReynolds) December 7, 2019
The original Peloton ad was met with a ton of controversy. The internet did with it what the internet does with things it doesn’t like– memes. With parodies across Tik Tok, Instagram, and comment sections everywhere, the internet was having a field day with Peloton.
I’ll admit, the only other time I had heard of Aviation Gin before this was during Ryan’s very meta commercial for Samsung.
His team’s responsiveness to a very tiny window of opportunity allowed Aviation Gin to get itself in front of a ton of new customers in the best light possible.
With the holiday season in full swing, the timing of Aviation Gin’s move could not have been better. Had they been a day or two more late, we might have not cared as much.
Today, we’re going to take some time to breakdown the brand affinity lessons we can learn from Ryan Reynolds and how you can apply them to your company.
But first, let’s make sure we’re on the same page.
What The Heck Is Brand Affinity?
Oxford defines affinity as “a spontaneous or natural liking for someone or something.” Brand affinity is basically the same thing. When you have an affinity towards a brand, you naturally like it more than its competitors. It’s why I pay the extra $100 for my grande extra hot Americano with blonde espresso at Starbucks instead of settling for Timmies’ bean water.
Brands use emotions to strengthen the relationship they have with their customers. This can be as subtle as the copywriting on their menus, to as overt as a waiter asking what the special occasion is. Companies with high brand affinity understand that optimizing every touch point is crucial.
Children even as young as 3 years old are able to identify and distinguish between logos. Your kid knows that you’re a liar if you promised the palace of golden arches but take them to Burger King.
…how could you?
Nurturing brand affinity helps cement your brand as the go-to when someone needs what you’re selling. Consider the exercise below.
These brands have become so popular that their products are synonymous with the entire category.
Most companies only ever seek brand loyalty. But there needs to be an emotional connection for your brand to stay top of mind in the first place. What would make someone think of your product beyond just a lower price or a few extra features?
Brand affinity is what leads to customer loyalty.
Aviation Gin isn’t the cheapest product on the market in its category. And it certainly isn’t the gin your grandfather used to drink.
Developing brand affinity is about nurturing human connections. It takes a lot of leg work. But it’s not work that Ryan Reynolds and his team shy away from.
Here’s What Ryan Does Well
Corporations are guilty of speaking to customers like… well, corporates.
A couple stopping to grab a bottle of wine before a dinner party don’t speak to each other as if they’re monoliths. Ryan knows this. He knows how the people who he wants to pick up his product actually talk to each other.
So, he employs the same tone and language that you’d overhear them using. A quick scroll through their Twitter feed will show you how tongue-in-cheek their copy is. They never use supernumerary words with crazy syllable counts or drone on in lengthy copy with an exclamation point at the end for a last ditch effort to add “personality!”
Aviation Gin has a certain voice. And you, naturally, associate a face or a type of person to that voice. I bet you’re not imagining John from accounting with the geeky pocket protector.
The way Ryan’s team tweets about their product and talk about it makes you WANT to keep listening. It’s enjoyable! You’re having a good time. You almost forget that you’ve fallen prey to content marketing.
The best advertisements don’t look or sound like advertisements. Aviation Gin’s TV spots are entertaining. You WANT to watch them.
And the Peloton Wife spot was no different. Ryan’s team responded quickly to a cultural moment and capitalized on Peloton’s misfortune. This responsiveness allowed them to hack culture and stay top of mind during the holiday season.
Spontaneity, guts, comic relief– the themes of this moment embodied the emotions they wanted to have associated with the Aviation brand. Brand affinity is all about what someone feels when they hear your name.
Courageous marketing feats aren’t the only way Ryan develops brand affinity. He does it on a micro level, as well.
When one deaf Twitter user pointed out that people like her are missing out on the fun because of a lack of captions, Ryan took her feedback and responded promptly with an edited video. Check out the exchange:
Cryssie was delighted. I mean, RYAN REYNOLDS responded to HER. I’d be freaking out.
Now, Cryssie might not have went to her nearest LCBO and bought a bottle of Aviation Gin right away BUT… the next time she’s walking down the gin aisle I think we both know which brand she’s gonna be looking for.
Brand affinity starts on a 1:1 basis. If your customers feel listened to, they’re much more likely to return the favour. It’s the golden rule, folks– treat others how you want to be treated.
People don’t want a big bad corporation to speak down to them. They want companies to feel like the hilarious friend they’re catching up with on a Thursday night. Aviation Gin is that friend, and the Peloton MCU is their inside joke. Inside jokes build brand affinity.
How You Can Do This For Your Brand
You and I are mere mortals. We can’t have Ryan’s charm or his smile (or his wife… or his career… or his general life). But, we can observe the marketing masterclass he puts on. Here are 3 things you can do to start building brand affinity today.
Listen to Your Customers
Every business has a Cryssie. That one customer that wants to love you, but feels left out.
Connect with them and listen. Engaging your customers and hearing how they perceive your brand is primary data you can use to grow. Pay attention to what excites them. Take note of what they ignore.
Companies with high brand affinity excel in customer service. You’ll have a much easier time attracting new customers if you’re doing a good job at retaining your current customers.
Your customers won’t always tell you the whole picture, though. That’s why it’s equally as important to listen to the cultural overlaps where your customer hangs out (figuratively).
Respond to Culture
Aviation Gin’s target demographic was glued to the Peloton commercial. It’s where their eyes naturally were.
Many brands make the mistake of being the dude on the corner of a busy intersection twirling a sign around. They’re sweating profusely to divert drivers (your customers) off the path they’re on and make a hard left.
Brands claw to turn attention their way. Aviation Gin goes to where the attention already is.
Your customer isn’t one dimensional. The relationship they have with you doesn’t have to begin and end directly with the product you’re selling. People’s interests and desires are deep and wide. Understand what intersections your customer spends their attention at and meet them there.
Add a Personal Touch
If I screenshot one of your recent tweets and removed your handle from the picture, would someone who’s seeing that for the first time be able to tell the tweet’s from you? If you can swap out your brand name with a competitor’s and the message doesn’t feel wrong, that’s a problem.
Let your personality shine through in your copywriting, your website design, and your customer interactions. The more human you can make your brand feel, the easier time you’ll have nurturing brand affinity.
Delight Customers, Earn Promoters
First impressions are lasting impressions. If a prospective customer’s first interaction with you wasn’t memorable, they won’t think of you. It’s much more noteworthy to make a customer laugh or cry, than to be forgotten about.
The only thing you want customers to forget, is that you’re an ad.
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