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Why brands should care about inspiration

Why brands should care about inspiration

Tamara van der Peet

Head of Strategy, Amsterdam 

Wunderman Thompson


Working with brands every day, it’s easy to overestimate their importance in people’s lives. In reality, people wouldn’t care if the majority of brands ceased to exist.

Rather than being a daunting thought, this realization motivates me to help build brands that are relevant and make a positive difference. Brands that are able to inspire people around something bigger than just consumption – brands that can actually move people into positive behavior.

Although creativity and inspiration are often mentioned in the same breath, little scientific research has been done around inspiration as it relates to brands and brand building. Though it touches on concepts such as purpose, meaningfulness, and the ”why,” brand inspiration has a more personal and actionable quality to it. According to psychologists Thrash and Elliot, inspiration involves both being inspired by something and acting on that inspiration. Inspiration is evoked spontaneously, and involves a moment of clarity and seeing new possibilities – followed by the motivation to act on or realize this new perspective, idea, or vision.

Great brands are able to inspire people in many different ways. They stimulate your imagination. Intrigue you with new ideas. Change your perspective on something. Let you discover new things, or make you see things that you haven’t seen before. By doing this, they are able to create lasting memories and help people to have closer, more intimate connections with brands. I still remember the first time I was inspired by IKEA. How it amazed me with inventive solutions to furnish my small student room, offering all kinds of new possibilities to improve my everyday life. I’m still a fan. Or I think about how LEGO inspires my 5-year-old son to be creative in building things beyond his imagination (and keeps reminding me how important is to play). Or how Triodos makes me think about the positive impact I can make on society, going far beyond making a conscious choice on where to put my money.

Brands that offer inspiration through end-to-end experiences are inclined to outperform non-inspirational brands on all levels. The better a brand’s ability to inspire, the stronger the emotional bond it is able to create. Inspirational brands stand out more, get more attention, and create longer-lasting memories. And when you are inspired by a brand, you’ll be more motivated to tell your friends about it, driving advocacy.

Inspiration matters on the societal level as well. Research shows that feeling inspired facilitates people’s progress towards goals, and thus enhances productivity. It also increases self-esteem, perceived competence, and mastery of work. Inspiration is a springboard for creativity and optimism, as it makes you see possibilities you hadn’t seen before. And above all, feeling inspired more often will lead to higher wellbeing and life satisfaction.

How wonderful it is that we brand builders have the power to ignite sparks of inspiration within people all over the world. If brands succeed in being a source of inspiration to people, they drive growth for people, businesses, and society. Now, that’s what inspires me.