Leadership Marketing Part VII: Explorer Brands

 Michael Marino

Michael Marino / Founder & CEO

What would you like to accomplish today?

When was the last time you seriously committed to get something done? Last month? Last week? This morning? Whether it’s training for a marathon, finishing a term paper or painting the back porch, there’s an Explorer Brand for that! The fourth quadrant of the Leadership Model features Explorer Brands, those products that promise new skills and new adventures. Explorer Brands focus their value propositions on our desires for individual achievement or self-improvement. More than any other type of brand, Explorer Brands raise our hopes and expectations – and they dare us to imagine what’s possible.

Whatever it is, go for it.

Where Power Brands deliver the core category benefits (safest car, cheapest airfare, most effective pain relief, etc.), Explore Brands let the users interpret and personalize the benefits for themselves. Therefore, their taglines and value propositions are less specific: Nike, one of the oldest and most successful Explorer Brands, entreats the user to, “Just do it.” Just do what? Or, Home Depot, which claims that, “You can do it. We can help.” Do what exactly?

Every day is another opportunity to grow.

Explorer Brands target the innovator and early adopter, and their messages follow a simple equation: It + Me = a Better Me. Their executions typically feature aspirational performances, presented with all the associated possibilities. Achieving any goal fills us with a sense of pride and personal growth, so their emotional benefits relate to achievement, self-discovery and excitement. The US Army’s recruiting tagline, “Be all you can be,” which ran from 1980-2001, was essentially a pure articulation of an Explorer Brand benefit.

Strategically, their value propositions are most closely aligned with the highest rung of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, Self-actualization. It’s the level that recognizes when we function at our absolute best – taking full advantage of every quality and skill we have within ourselves.

Regardless of who we are or what we do, Explorer Brands not only encourage, but sometimes help to accomplish what we set out to do, not matter how formidable the task. There’s always a new goal to reach or a new dream to imagine, and Explorer Brands will be right alongside us for every step of the journey.

Communication Strategies of Explorer Brands:



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