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What family means for marketing & branding

Table of contents

The family is defined as the basic unit of society (1), an intimate group of people who are relate to each other (2) and thrive in this world. Families in different cultures consume very differently. They come in different sizes, shapes and colors, with each having their own needs, culture, and desires.

Modern Family, an American sitcom about three family units that are multi-ethnic, transgenerational, and nonconventional. Photograph: The Movie DB

This Consumption Unit of Society (3) plays a major role in customer behaviour, every person has their family engraved deeply in their heart and subconscious, nudging them to decide for a trustable SUV instead of a shiny, red, sports car or making them loyal to a brand without really knowing why (it is the one my mom uses!).
How can marketeers and brand strategists better communicate the concept of family? To find out, I used the Neuro Flash App to dive into the implicit associations of “family” in the USA. Helping me to find the right concepts to use when communicating with consumers.

If you’re more interested in Family-Associations from the UK or Singapore, read it here.

This article will help you to 

  1. Understand the consumer mind’s wiring around “Family”
  2. Energize a family message with emotion
  3. Enrich family related content with engaging associations

1. Understanding the wiring

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Based on the content that consumers read and write (such as mass media sources, books, song lyrics and more) Neuro Flash can determine that “family” is a common word in the USA, occurring ca. 446.7 times every 100.000 words.

People would generally have a positive / happy reaction to “family” when just rating the concept behind it, it has a positive mood [68%]. It can be arousing and calming, depending on the circumstances, thus “family” has a neither strong emotional nor calming connotation.

It is interesting to mention that the concept is perceived as slightly dominant, feminine, and concrete. Americans perceive family as a more tangible concept that, for example, innovation (see the “meaning of innovation” article).

2. Energizing with emotion

The majority of purchasing decisions (non crucial or life-changing) are made by the brain by matching an intensity of emotion towards a certain brand with a willingness to buy (4). You will have a head-start on the mind of the consumer if you link your brand or message to one of these emotions from the beginning.

#6436 - World Association Wiki page template - All GraphicsEmotional Dimensionsof Familyyoungsterheavenlytrulycompanioncherishromanticadorecelebrationgetawayproudheartfeltcharmlifelongpeacefullifestylefriendshipjoyfulprosperousfunwonderfulunforgettablehappinessmemorablegiftaffectiondelightfulopportunityenjoygenerouscheerfuloccasionhonorpamperembracecouple

Which associations combine the power of emotion?

If you want your message to be Happy and Emotional, the choice of words must include: unforgettable, happiness, memorable, gift, affection.

If you want to reflect Happy and Powerful, then delightful, opportunity, enjoy, generous, cheerful would be the associations that would work for your message.

Occasion, honor, pamper, embrace, couple are associations that transmit an Emotional and Powerful message.

If you want your communications to focus on just one emotion, then your best options are:

Romantic, adore, celebration, getaway, proud for very emotional associations, heartfelt, charm, lifelong, peaceful, lifestyle for very powerful associations and youngster, heavenly, truly, companion, cherish for very happy associations.

The sweet spot can be found in the middle of the diagram, the words friendship, joyful, prosperous, fun, wonderful make people feel happy, emotional and powerful. 

Ikea hitting “the sweet spot”, a family brand using the word WONDERFUL, Source: Ads of the World

3. Enriching family content

For the next step, the Neuro-Flash App offers thousands of ideas! You can explore asociations, test your text and even consult image inspirations.

Explore associations

This graph contains concepts related to family. The concepts in green bubbles, friendship, life, friend, couple, family, mom, dad, kid, marriage, foster, relationship, father, mother, community, neighbor, child, parent, society, beloved, house are positive, while those in red bubbles,aunt, grandmother, relative, cousin, grandfather, household, sibling, sister, wife, spouse, group, husband, live, daughter, brother, grandparent, son, childhood, church, marry are negative. The words live, house, life, community, family, group, child, friend, kid, couple, church, mother, wife, son, relationship, parent, father, mom, brother, society are common, while grandparent, sibling, grandfather, grandmother, aunt, beloved, spouse, cousin, childhood, foster, friendship, relative, neighbor, dad, household, marriage, husband, marry, sister, daughter are rare
click to enlarge

The flower graph show words that are connected to the seedword: “family”. Words closer to the middle are more strongly related to the concept in the middle (“family”) and fulfill our current goals. The goal is always defined at the bottom right. in this case, words are connected to the seedword (“family”) and are more common

In the same way as the associations in the UK and Singapore the word Family in the USA has a strong relation with words about close relationships (husband, mother, child…). Nevertheless, what makes USA stand out is the appearance words for parents and grandparents related to genders, namely father and mother, and grandfather and grandmother. This, summed up with the words household, society, community, and relationship could be a hint to the perception of the word family in America as an institution, a  concrete concept.

Nevertheless, the concept extends beyond individuals sharing a same blood of roof and places friends and friendship can be found in the association map, it is worthy to mention that these and life are the happiest words sharing an association with “Family“, which we can identify on the color cue . More green is more happy, more red is more sad. White is neutral.

In effective marketing communication, the use of common words helps to communicate something that everyone understands. A word’s commonness in the country (USA) is indicated in the flower map with the size of the circle surrounding the associated word. Big means more common, smaller means less common. Surrounding “family”, the words live, house, life are common. Grandparent, sibling, grandfather are rare words and may not be as widely use as you think, using uncommon words can capture attention, but could make your message harder to swallow.

Asociations that work on Social Media

The following graphs show concepts surrounding “family” that are related to social media engagement. Engagement is the ability of content to create likes, comments and shares, which nourish the relationship between brand and consumer. Engagement is most correlated with Emotional and Gender Association for Facebook and Instagram, respectively.

The vertical axis sorts concepts to the top when they are connected to more engagment. The horizontal axis indicated the values of the concepts on different dimensions (Emotional and Gender Association).

familymother▼father▼son▼belovedfriendshiplifelonglifecommunitysocietygrandsonmarriage▼wealthy▼clanchurchhometownheir▼invitejewishcountrysidegatheringdivorcemansionsanctuarypeoplesurvive▼lifestylevacationreligioussheltervictimhoneymoonreunionenjoyholidayabroadmournwelfarecelebrationgetawayrefugehappyretreat▲lavishgrowpovertyfacultyabusivebrotherhoodhospitalhomeschoolcatholicunforgettablehappinesscitizenhonormilitarycondolencefestivitywellbeingfraternitysuburbdeathspacious▲adoptiondynastyprotestantbirthprideorganizationillnessfoefunlgbtrelocate▲charitablejealousadvocateweddingritualheritageexileenvironment▲vulnerableprivateescapeinnocent▼independencepostpartumallykidnapdreamatmospherefellowshipluxuriouslakesidefleepartneradventuroustraumacolonialweekendmissionaryhaunttravelspiritmemorialluxury▲romanceestateallianceprominentfabulousscadasurroundmurdermatrimonybirthplaceleisurepersonalitylaughtermuslimnaplespilgrimageenclaveaccommodationbarbecuethreatenworshipoverseas▲gayteam▲zoosupportermafiamauihomosexualsoldiergodfearhomeland▲paradisecourtyardlordshrinedebtreverecaravanslaycollegeentertainmenttripenchantoffice▲rental▲stressgovernmentesteempatrioticroyal▼visitguatemala▲plentyremembrancemartyrhindugrange▼christbeautifulannumbavariaviolencestorycastleembarkmoneykardashianenthusiasticworkplacepopulationsacredholocaustphysicallydescentexotictransgenderregencyterracelancasterproudlyestablishmentindiangeorgianalcoholism▼anxietylaborexcursionemperorthemedciviliancaribbeanguardianhistoricfightpalm beachkill▼criminalpicturesque▲commemoratemysteriousprisonrehabilitationchildbirthkaiser▼biodiversitygeneticunited stateshabitatmedicalplaygroundphilanthropyexcitementsouthwesttalentedrica▲paganamericanoccupationvibranthumanitarianrajasthanwildlife▲templemidwiferapeterrifyhawaii▲crimenonprofithumanecongresseverybodyoasispsychiatriceidlawyerrolemediterraneanremodeltombparamountptsdsexkingdombusinessaccidentnazifoothillsecret▼outdoorbillionaire▼injurefirefighterfolklorearmyhotelparkcosta rica▲drmedicinebali▲graduatedisneyparklandnovotelcherokeeassetsuvcaliforniadecaderehabecosystemcircus▼diwalipoliticsuicide▼mobkentucky▼northeast▲ More EngagementLess EngagementMoreEmotionalMoreCalmingEngagement is most correlatedwith Emotional. image/svg+xml #6436 - World Association Wiki page template - All Graphics - 0730 #6436 - World Association Wiki page template - All Graphics - 0730 image/svg+xml #6436 - World Association Wiki page template - All Graphics - 0730 Less Important MoreImportant 0.00 0.04 0.02 -0.02 -0.04 0.0 0.1 0.2 0.3 0.4 0.5 0.6 tangible audit incentive nutrition handbook profitabilty healthy transparency literacy climate philanthropy mission international heritage scientific More Engagement Less Engagement Engagement is mostcorrelatedwithDimension X image/svg+xml #6436 - World Association Wiki page template - All Graphics - 0730 Less Important MoreImportant 0.00 0.04 0.02 -0.02 -0.04 0.0 0.1 0.2 0.3 0.4 0.5 0.6 tangible audit incentive nutrition handbook profitabilty healthy transparency literacy climate philanthropy mission international heritage scientific More Engagement Less Engagement Engagement is mostcorrelatedwithDimension X #6436 - World Association Wiki page template - All Graphics - 0730#6436 - World Association Wiki page template - All Graphics - 0730upward trenddownward trend

Emotional: indicates whether a word is rated as more calming or emotional. Very emotional words connected to “family” are excitement, terrify, slay. More calming words are faculty, terrace, courtyard.

Content that uses these words or expresses associated meaning is more engaging. Content evoking associations with proudly, talented, pride are more engaging than content about escape, hotel, travel on Facebook.

familymotherfathersonbelovedfriendshiplifelonglifecommunitysocietygrandsonmarriagewealthyclan▼church▲hometownheirinvitejewishcountrysidegatheringdivorcemansionsanctuarypeoplesurvivelifestylevacationreligious▲sheltervictimhoneymoonreunionenjoyholidayabroadmournwelfarecelebrationgetawayrefuge▲happyretreatlavishgrowpovertyfacultyabusivebrotherhoodhospitalhomeschoolcatholicunforgettablehappinesscitizenhonormilitarycondolencefestivity▼wellbeingfraternitysuburbdeath▲spacious▼adoption▼dynastyprotestantbirthprideorganizationillnessfoefunlgbtrelocatecharitable▲jealousadvocateweddingritual▲heritageexileenvironment▼vulnerableprivateescapeinnocentindependence▼postpartumallykidnapdreamatmospherefellowship▲luxuriouslakesidefleepartneradventuroustraumacolonialweekendmissionaryhaunttravelspiritmemorialluxuryromanceestateallianceprominentfabulousscada▼surroundmurdermatrimonybirthplaceleisurepersonalitylaughtermuslimnaples▲pilgrimage▲enclaveaccommodation▼barbecuethreatenworship▲overseasgayteamzoosupportermafiamauihomosexualsoldiergodfearhomelandparadisecourtyard▼lordshrine▲debtreverecaravanslaycollegeentertainmenttripenchantofficerentalstress▼governmentesteempatrioticroyalvisitguatemalaplentyremembrancemartyrhindugrange▼christ▲beautifulannumbavariaviolencestorycastleembarkmoneykardashianenthusiasticworkplacepopulationsacred▲holocaustphysically▼descentexotic▲transgenderregencyterracelancasterproudlyestablishmentindian▲georgianalcoholismanxietylabor▼excursionemperorthemedciviliancaribbeanguardianhistoricfightpalm beachkillcriminalpicturesquecommemoratemysteriousprisonrehabilitationchildbirthkaiserbiodiversitygeneticunited stateshabitatmedicalplayground▼philanthropyexcitementsouthwesttalentedricapagan▲americanoccupationvibranthumanitarianrajasthanwildlife▲templemidwiferapeterrifyhawaiicrimenonprofithumanecongresseverybodyoasispsychiatriceidlawyerrolemediterraneanremodel▼tombparamountptsdsexkingdom▲businessaccidentnazifoothillsecretoutdoorbillionaireinjurefirefighterfolklorearmyhotelparkcosta ricadrmedicinebaligraduatedisneyparklandnovotel▼cherokeeassetsuv▼californiadecade▲rehab▼ecosystem▼circusdiwalipoliticsuicide▲mobkentuckynortheast More EngagementLess EngagementMoreMasculineMoreFeminineEngagement is most correlatedwith Gender Association. image/svg+xml #6436 - World Association Wiki page template - All Graphics - 0730 #6436 - World Association Wiki page template - All Graphics - 0730