By Lynn Manternach / Guest Editorial
It’s time to get emotional when it comes to building your brand.
In the battle between intellect and emotion, emotion wins. Always. It’s emotion that powers our decisions to act. Our brains are hardwired to give emotions the upper hand.
The fact is, no matter what business you are in, there are competitors who want your customers and market share. Do you have enough of an emotional connection with your customers to keep them? Are you communicating the right kind of messages to attract new customers?
A feature can be matched. A claim can be echoed. But an emotional sweet spot is an incredibly powerful long-term advantage.
The science behind branding is brain science. We process information in the neo-cortex. But our emotions are rooted in the limbic system.
Trust, loyalty and other emotional attachments are sensed in the limbic brain. That’s the part of our brain that knows when something is important to us. It’s the place that motivates us to take action, or not. But the limbic brain has no capacity for language. No amount of information can motivate someone to buy.
The emotional limbic system and the rational neo-cortex do communicate with each other. But ultimately, reasoning does not drive behavior. The motivation, or the call to action, comes from the limbic brain. People quickly reach conclusions based on emotional reactions, and then later they find facts to support what they have decided.
That’s why image-rich stories and metaphors that are authentic to your brand are so powerful. They connect with people. They get attention in an extremely information-saturated environment where consumers feel overwhelmed with information. That’s also why the brand experience is so important.
McDonald’s was one of the first to really understand the power of emotional branding. Decades ago, when competitors were talking about the size of their burgers or the thickness of their shakes, McDonald’s was showing us emotional images of family togetherness around a fast-food lunch.
Apple has also been successful in its ability to differentiate itself by understanding the anxiety consumers are feeling in an ever-evolving technical world. Apple products consistently demonstrate an elegant simplicity and humanized touch. Customers feel like part of the Apple brand because Apple makes it clear the brand understands their needs.
Finding the emotional sweet spot can be challenging. You need to really understand your consumers and what’s important to them. Research, both formal and informal, can help you identify where to focus.
The benefits of emotional branding are powerful. Consumers associate with brands they feel reflect who they are, and when a close emotional link to a brand is formed, emotions can run high. A deep emotional connection with a customer translates into unwavering consumer loyalty.
Creating an emotional bond with customers requires more than just good branding and marketing. A company engaged in emotional branding puts the needs of its customers ahead of the product it is selling.
Brands in highly competitive categories where clear and rational differentiation is difficult have the most to gain from an emotional approach to branding. When you don’t have a unique rational claim to make, you really have no choice but to win consumer’s hearts rather than their minds. All brands and all products, regardless of the industry, can leverage the power of personality and emotion to strengthen their appeal.
So go ahead. Get emotional. It’s the logical thing to do.
Lynn Manternach is brand arsonist and president at MindFire Communications Inc. (MindFireComm.com) in Cedar Rapids and Le Claire. Contact Lynn at firstname.lastname@example.org.