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Successful Products Do a Good Job of Satisfying People’s 10 Basic Desires

Brands spend more than $450 billion each year to influence us. They wouldn't spend that kind of money unless they knew something we didn't know.

The most-successful brands don't focus on what we need; they focus on what we want. We need a credit card; we want an American Express Black card. We need a cellphone; we want the yet-to-be-released iPhone.

Fortunately for brands, when it comes to identifying what people want, we aren't particularly complex. The human mind seeks to satisfy 10 primary wants. Direct your actions toward meeting as many as possible, and your brand will grow exponentially.

So what do people want, exactly?

1. To feel safe and secure. This is reinforced through both the physical structure of the brain and our physical environment, making it one of the strongest motivating forces in our lives. The amygdale is an area of the brain whose primary purpose is to protect us. Whenever we sense fear or danger, or that things are not safe or secure, it fires. This works in conjunction with our long-term memory, which continuously references and longs for the safety and security we received as children. When Allstate tells us we're in good hands with them, it appeals to this desire for safety and security. Who else? Volvo, OnStar, ADP, Geico, Johnson & Johnson.

2. To feel comfortable. We all want to feel comfortable. We want to feel good, relaxed, we want it to be easy. Our brains are constantly asking, if I do this, how will I feel? We are attracted to what makes us feel good, and this is often what is most comfortable and easy -- brands such as Cracker Barrel, Rockport, Godiva and Dole (what's easier than bagged lettuce?).

3. To be cared for and connected to others. It is human nature to want to feel that someone cares for us, that we have friends and that people enjoy our company. Humans are genetically predisposed to want to be together and to be connected. It is one of our evolutionary traits. And by observing, interacting and engaging with others, our mirror neurons allow us to learn from one another and feel what others are feeling. Think about recent communication campaigns from Olive Garden, Budweiser, Pizza Hut and Mitsubishi's Eclipse. Further, this is one of the key wants social networks such as Twitter, Facebook and MySpace meet.

4. To be desired by others. Some believe that all human motivation comes down to wanting to be desired by others. Freud popularized this concept pitting the id against the superego and ego. And even though brands have been targeting this want since the beginning -- and people are aware of brands' efforts in this area -- it has not lost any of its effectiveness. Axe can't make their message to guys any clearer: use our products and you'll be irresistible. And how about Michelob Ultra, Viagra, Cadillac, Old Spice and Victoria's Secret?

5. To be free to do what we want. The desire to be free has been a guiding principal of humankind for the past 200,000 years. Throughout history, societies have banded together to fight for their freedom, from early civilizations in Greece, through the dark ages and Renaissance, the French and American Revolutions, and the abolition of slavery and both world wars. The desire to be free is such a dominant human want that, time after time, we have given our lives to satisfy it. Financial brands such as Fidelity, Citi and Mastercard were built by focusing on this want, as were brands such as Harley-Davidson, Southwest, Nutrisystem and even Norwegian Cruise Lines.

To be Continued.

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