Image: Courtesy of Music Philosophy

I’ve seen hundreds of laundry detergent ads. None of these ads affected my purchase behavior. Why? Because I don’t have a laundry detergent problem.

I’ve seen tons of American beer commercials. I’ve never bought one of these brands. Why? Because I don’t have a beer problem. (Meaning, I don’t drink any mass market US brands.)

Good advertising helps people solve problems. Gives them concrete reasons to buy this specific product/service. Explains them why this tomato sauce tastes better, why this computer works better, why these jeans make you look nicer, why this service is more convenient or tells me why this product gives me more value. There are just a few categories where people want to connect on an emotional level with brands. These are mostly frivolous purchases, things that make you feel better (or worse in the long run): clothes, liquor, soda, cigarettes.

In these categories, brands need to build emotional connections because there’s no real problem to solve. And there’s no real difference between a Pepsi and Coke. After all, it’s just carbonated sugar water. A good reason to spend a lot of money on branding. And emotional connections.

That model doesn’t work for problem-solving products. Still, many brands try to apply the emotional connection model to a problem-solving brand. And believe in joining the conversation and building connections with their user base.

Arguably, most people don’t want to talk to a brand. They just want to get their specific problem solved and move on. Just ask the people using self service kiosks in supermarkets, retailers and airports. So, decide in what business you are in. If your goal is to solve problems for people, the best thing you could do is making your solution even better. Let other people do the talking.