I’ll admit it, without my Band I felt lost, I couldn’t sleep, I didn’t want to exercise. What’s the point if I couldn’t record it and there were no trophies or encouraging messages at the end. In just a few short months, my band had become part of my identity and my incentive to continue pushing along towards my goals. When it suddenly broke, I was devastated.
By now you’re probably wondering if I am talking about my music band or something entirely different. Those who know me will rejoice that my singing voice remains indoors or just to embarrass my children on special occasions. It’s my Microsoft Band that had me feeling lost.
For the avoidance of doubt or suspicion of any collusion (not that Microsoft needs it), my brother-in-law works for Microsoft, but I purchased my Band for myself at the full retail price (that’s how much I wanted it). I treasure it.
My experience with the Microsoft Band hits the core of branding. The moment my Band tapped into my emotions, it had me. The Band is all about ME, like a private conversation with my inner competitive self, heightening the experience, giving me the exhilaration in meeting a goal and motivating me to push harder. This emotion is intoxicating and often irrational, which is why my first reaction to my Band breaking was feeling abandoned and worried that I did something wrong, instead of feeling upset at Microsoft for selling a faulty product. Consider my reaction again: I was upset at myself, not the product. My emotional reaction is what every brand on the planet wants to tap into, but few know how.
Brands that don’t understand the emotional connection their customers have with their product, service or idea aren’t worth calling brands. The old days of pushing products by leading with a few key benefits and someone attractive smiling and pointing are long dead (not that they ever really worked). Today is entirely about the story. Nail the story (consistently) and make every aspect of it sing (consistently) and you have a shot.
With each and every client, our aim is to create an emotional connection. How we do it takes some art. There is a lot of talk about digital disruption, millennials, storytelling and more, but substance is missing in the place of jargon and watery predictions. Tactics have changed in response to changing ways consumers make buying decisions, largely influenced by social media, but strategy remains the same. Go back to basics, remember why you started, embrace the 4 P’s (yes, product, price, placement and promotion are still relevant), then talk directly to your target audience and listen.
Does your brand evoke emotions? Are they the ones you want? Can you use these emotions to your advantage? If you can't answer these questions, think about exiting the business or hire an expert.
Below are some common emotions that drive behaviour:
FEAR: Fear of failure and fear of the unknown are the most common, but what about fear of being left behind, missing a trend, not being cool. Fear of someone discovering you’re not perfect or you’re vulnerable.
COMPETITION: Not only do you want to win, but you also want recognition that you won and then you want to share it with the world. It’s about validation as much as winning. The other side is what you do just for yourself. It’s the voice that tells you to run a little faster, a little longer and then rewards you with praise, but this is private, it’s personal, it can only be tainted by you.
DISTRACTION: Feeling bored, tired, angry, cold, lazy or anything more nagging? Retail therapy gives you a boost, distracts you from what’s going on around you. Thank you Amazon Prime for encouraging this behaviour, turning want into need and increasing impatience. Who knew a simple mouse click could deliver a rush. It used to be lipstick for me.
GUILT: Did you forget your mum’s birthday, hurt someone’s feelings, take someone for granted or miss an opportunity? How we behave out of guilt is irrational, but highly predictable. Charities are experts in this field. How could you not want to feed a hungry child? You’d be a horrible human being to let children suffer, especially with your £8/day coffee addition.
HAPPINESS: For something everyone wants, there’s no universal description. Happiness is watching your favourite programme on telly, a perfectly ripe avocado, getting to work five minutes early, watching your child in the school play, finishing a good book, the first smell of spring, the sound of the ocean. Brands that help us reach happiness, and better yet, hold onto it a little longer, win favour. However, happiness is fleeting and people have short memories, so don’t rest your entire sales strategy on happiness. Focus instead on specific events and specific targets.
TRUST: This is the holy grail of emotions. If you hit it, then protect it with every penny of revenue your company has (even your own house). Don’t take this emotion for granted, don’t ignore it, don’t abuse it. Trust leads to loyalty, to word-of-mouth, to a fan club and even to forgiveness when you get something wrong.
I read this article when it was published in January 2016, but it stuck in my brain. His idea isn’t revolutionary—in fact it’s what we’ve been preaching about for years—but he made the argument succinct.
This select few know that the true value of their brand lies below the surface. It’s not just about clever ads or billboards, although advertising is certainly a component of their brand. It’s not just about packaging, the website and social media, although these are certainly important in their own right. Instead, a great brand is a set of consistent, positive associations and perceptions that have been created through the sum total of their interactions with that company, product, or service.
Simply put, customer experience is at the core of every brand. Research shows time and again that people will reward companies whose products and services meet or exceed their expectations. The reward comes back in the form of brand preference and customer loyalty that translates into revenue. Yet many companies do not seem to recognize how fundamental it is for all customer interactions to be seamlessly and effortlessly aligned toward a mutually desired set of experiences.