Customer Evolution through Aspirational Identity

How Brands Should Evolve to Partner With Customers

Customer Evolution through Aspirational Identity

Customer Evolution through Aspirational Identity

1024 663 Michael Kraabel

In a time when consumer expectations extend beyond product functionality to encompass personal growth and identity enhancement, brands face the imperative to evolve. This is where the Voyager Brand Value Model (VBVM) comes in, a conceptual framework designed to anchor brand value in the aspirational identity of the consumer. By shifting focus from the transactional to the transformational, VBVM positions brands as catalysts in the customer’s journey towards their ideal self.

The landscape of consumer-brand interaction has undergone profound changes, influenced by heightened consumer awareness and the desire for products and services that resonate with personal identity and aspirations. Harvard Business School Professor Theodore Levitt posited, “People don’t want to buy a quarter-inch drill. They want a quarter-inch hole” (Levitt, 1960), suggesting that successful brands are those that understand and cater to the underlying needs and desires of their customers. Extending Levitt’s insight, I would argue that modern consumers seek not just solutions but transformations through their interactions with brands.

The Need for the Transformative Branding Model

Traditional branding models have predominantly focused on product features, benefits, and emotional connections. However, as consumers navigate an increasingly complex and challenging world, there is a growing demand for brands that contribute to personal development and identity actualization. Dr. Carol S. Dweck’s research on growth mindset highlights the human propensity to seek self-improvement and evolution (Dweck, 2006). The Voyager Brand Value Model (VBVM) emerges as a response to this demand, offering a blueprint for brands to engage with consumers on a journey towards their aspirational selves.

Components of the Transformative Branding Model

The VBVM is built on four pillars: Customer Insight, Brand Promise, Engagement Pathway, and Aspirational Identity. Each component is designed to guide brands in creating value propositions that transcend traditional benefits, fostering a deeper, more meaningful relationship with the consumer.

  • Customer Insight: A profound understanding of the consumer’s current state, aspirations, and the challenges they face in achieving their ideal self.
  • Brand Promise: A commitment to facilitating the consumer’s transformation, articulated in a way that resonates with their aspirations.
  • Engagement Pathway: A structured interaction framework that supports the consumer’s journey from their current state to their aspirational identity, leveraging both products and brand experiences.
  • Aspirational Identity: A vivid depiction of the transformation achieved through engagement with the brand, serving as both the goal and the measure of success.

Application in Modern Branding

In applying VBVM, brands must adopt a narrative-driven approach, weaving stories that embody the transformative journey. Coca-Cola’s “Open Happiness” campaign exemplifies this, positioning the brand as a conduit to a more joyful, connected life (Kotler & Keller, 2016). Similarly, Nike’s “Just Do It” slogan inspires consumers to transcend their limits, embodying the aspirational identity of athleticism and resilience (Keller, 1993).


The VBVM addresses the modern consumer’s desire for brands that contribute to their personal and aspirational goals. By focusing on the evolution of the consumer’s identity, VBVM facilitates a deeper, more engaged relationship between brands and their audience. As Dr. Joseph Pine and James Gilmore assert in “The Experience Economy,” consumers value experiences that support their personal growth and transformation (Pine & Gilmore, 1999). VBVM operationalizes this insight, providing a strategic framework for developing branding initiatives that resonate with the contemporary consumer’s quest for meaning and identity.

The VBVM represents a paradigm shift in how brands interact with consumers. It recognizes the consumer’s journey towards their aspirational identity as a critical component of brand engagement. In the current market environment, characterized by a quest for authenticity, personal growth, and self-actualization, VBVM offers a roadmap for brands to create value that transcends traditional product benefits, fostering loyalty and deepening consumer relationships. As the marketplace continues to evolve, the brands that succeed will be those that align with and support the consumer’s journey towards their ideal self.


Dweck, C. S. (2006). Mindset: The New Psychology of Success. Random House.

Keller, K. L. (1993). Conceptualizing, Measuring, and Managing Customer-Based Brand Equity. Journal of Marketing, 57(1), 1-22.

Kotler, P., & Keller, K. L. (2016). Marketing Management (15th ed.). Pearson Education, Inc.

Levitt, T. (1960). Marketing Myopia. Harvard Business Review, 38(4), 45-56.

Pine, B. J., & Gilmore, J. H. (1999). The Experience Economy: Work Is Theatre & Every Business a Stage. Harvard Business School Press.



All stories by: kraabel