I thought I would broach a serious subject that could help some comrades in business and are losing the plot. Reading an interesting discussion on LinkedIn, the business social media network, on the difference between a logo and a brand, I realised that people tended to confuse the two.
Frank Celi, creative director at Celi Creative, describes a brand as a collection of perceptions that customers and prospective clients have about one’s business.
The director of communications at Government of Canada, Philippe Renoir, drew an analogy of a logo as the tie one wears when one goes to a meeting; the brand being what people felt and say about you once you have left.
The brand represents all those things that people cannot necessarily touch, but would want to be associated with.
Successful brands have that something extra to offer to their audiences. That is, creating a deep emotional connection. They create something that their audiences want to be part of because they touch on their needs.
Your brand has to appeal to both the practical — what you can provide physically — and the emotional — the desires, aspirations, fears, needs, interests and passion. Successful brands appeal to the heart, not the mind.
For Nike it’s not just about improving athletic performance, it’s about skill and image.
Coca Cola invokes happiness and memorable experiences. What is it that makes Apple fans to queue for days waiting to buy their latest offering if not the emotional connection?
“Apple is cool, the hipster of technology and they have achieved a level of fanaticism with their customers by being the pinnacle of innovation and design and then continually reinforcing the message,” writes Grow columnist Steve Goldner.
One has to look for the emotional angle in what he or she offers to customers and other audiences. If you are a hairdresser, for example, it’s not about a haircut but it’s enhancing the client’s image or self-esteem. A mechanic will gun for satisfaction and not just fix the car.
What is your emotional connection? Is it creating excitement? Invoking the ‘traditional’ feel? Healthy living or environmental consciousness? Take your pick. Whatever the hook you choose make sure it creates that emotional connection to your brand.
Emotional brands have a significant impact when the consumer experiences a strong and lasting attachment to the brand comparable to a feeling of bonding, companionship or even love.
Steve Golder writes that one has to create a brand where winning is a shared experience and then reinforce it.
“When building emotion into your brand, think about leading your customer through a continuum:
Emotional Stage 1: How you get someone interested
Emotional Stage 2: How do you get someone to consider purchasing your product/service?
Emotional Stage 3: How do you continually reinforce that their purchase decision was absolutely the right decision, the ‘winning’ decision?
Emotional Stage 4: How do you create a loyal customer such that they want to continue to buy your product/service?
Emotional Stage 5: How do you create a brand ‘ritual’ so that the brand becomes a part of your customer’s life?
Emotional Stage 6: How do you get your audience to be your cheerleader?
This last stage is worth commenting on. It has been found to be a fact that customers will be your most willing advocates.
People who have bought your products and their conversations, recommendations and perceptions are the most powerful branding tools. So what this means is that the emotional connection is built from the quality of service provision that you deliver. That is the bottom line. It’s the firm and tangible foundation on which emotional connection is built. Not the other way around.
I wrote in a previous article Branding 101 that word of mouth is the most powerful form of advocacy and endorsement. Your service gets noticed when people who have personally experienced your exceptional delivery tell others about it.
There is the added dimension of social media were online comments about service transgressions are shared on a global platform and how businesses are joining in those conversations. That will be subject of an upcoming article.
The same principles are applicable in the events management industry which is principally about service provision. The growing competition in this sector points to that fact that those entities that are more creative in presenting their brands to the market are bound to stand out. This demands a bit of research on what is out there in terms of brand marketing.
However, at the heart of all this is that age-old adage of ‘putting customers first.’ People feel bonded with those brands that demonstrate they understand their customer’s needs and motivations. Nyimpini Mabunda, Smirnoff Vodka Marketing Manager, describes this phenomenon aptly,
“Customers define themselves through brands they use. The branded clothes they wear, the cars they drive, the drinks they consume, university they attended, favourite spots to hang out, and so on.”
The success to emotionally brand your company will show when it becomes hard for your customer to separate themselves from your brand and begin a new relationship with another.
Next week I come down to Mother Earth. Promise!