“A brand is the set of expectations, memories, stories, and relationships that, taken together, account for a consumer’s decision to choose one product over another.”
— Seth Godin
What do Disney, Apple, and Amazon have in common?
Aside from raking in millions and millions in financial returns, these brands also topped the 2019 Brand Intimacy Report, a ranking of global brands that have established the best emotional connections with its consumers.
It is undeniable that the top brands in the world use the best branding services not only to leverage their financial and business objectives but to also secure their position in the hearts and minds of their target market.
Businesses make use of the best creative and strategic minds in the industry to come up with the most feasible brand strategy that will propel their brands upwards and stand head and shoulders above the competition.
In a sea of brands competing for consumers’ attention, the 21st-century entrepreneur would be hard-pressed to find a perfect formula for overall success. Fortunately, the world is also blessed with the most astute marketing minds that, together with all the other aspects of business, come up with stellar solutions for creating unique brand identities and propositions.
This distinctiveness differentiates the brand from its competitors in such a way that it talks in a specific language to its own set of customers. How a brand communicates with its specific market can greatly influence brand loyalty and trust. It helps in establishing emotional connections that can dictate the flow of business.
Emotions are considered to be the main drivers when it comes to brand loyalty. This is supported by the research results of the 2017 survey conducted by Capgemini’s Digital Transformation Institute. The study not only explored both the emotional and rational elements of brand loyalty but also how consumers view brand values as a factor in decision-making.
The reasons behind why people buy are influenced by their emotional engagement with the brand. Specifically, honesty and trust are the two major influencers in brand loyalty, but rational factors such as customer service, price competitiveness, and promotions are also deemed important.
Similarly, perceived brand values such as being environmentally friendly and socially responsible are also attractive attributes that promote loyalty to a brand.
Furthermore, the book “Descartes’ Error” by Antonio Damasio, a University of Southern California neuroscience professor, stresses that emotion is a key ingredient in making most decisions in life. When people are put in situations where they need to make decisions, emotions that stem from previous related experiences weigh in on the options that are being considered. Understanding how emotions influence decisions are important when trying to understand consumer behaviour.
With studies and surveys strengthening the thesis on the emotional connection with consumers and brand desirability, more and more businesses are riding on the emotional science bandwagon.
The Capgemini study found that there is a level of disconnect as to how company executives and consumers think about the emotional impact of brands. Eighty percent of executives think their brands have an emotional connection with customers, while only 15 percent of consumers think that brands actually do well in emotionally connecting with them. Still, it is undeniable that the science of linking emotions to building strong brands is gaining ground.
A positive response has been recorded regarding the use of emotional motivators in boosting business and brand. In the brand loyalty study, it is said that consumers with high emotional engagement are 70 percent more willing to spend twice the amount or more on brands that they are loyal to. For example, movie buffs are more likely to pay a premium for a truly rewarding emotional experience in a luxury cinema compared to a regular one. This is because their emotional motivators (such as a feeling of well-being, having a sense of success, and standing out from the crowd) are sufficiently met.
Additionally, 81 percent of consumers are more likely to spread the good word to their family and friends while 62 percent are willing to advocate for the brand that they trust.
In a report published in the Harvard Business Review published in November 2015, the researchers found top emotional motivators that drive customer behaviour.
Having these motivators in mind, businesses can then craft specific brand and business strategies that address each one. However, it is to be noted that there are hundreds of emotional motivators around. They vary by brand, category, and across customer segments. It may also differ when it comes to where a consumer is in their unique customer journey.
It is, therefore, crucial to have a strategic team that will put big data analysis, customer insights, business objectives, and marketing strategies together to come up with a cohesive and consistent plan. Management must make a relentless commitment to upholding the emotional branding strategy in order to see positive returns on investment, brand loyalty, and customer retention.
Brands that invest in emotional branding strategies stand to gain more in the long term. By establishing emotional connections that are relevant to their target market, their brand message will resonate even well beyond the current generation of buyers.
Companies that desire to capitalize on an emotional connection with their target consumers must remember the 4Rs shared in the Capgemini study:
In order for companies to show respect to their consumers, the former must go beyond regular transactions and delve deeper into developing meaningful relationships with the latter.
For example, providing prompt responses to their queries or concerns will result in customer satisfaction. Immediate and personalized attention to specific customer concerns can also bring about feelings of honesty, integrity, and trust in the brand.
Loyalty is a two-way street. Ninety-eight percent of company executives say that consumers enjoy giving back when their thoughts, ideas, and even complaints are taken into consideration to improve the whole customer experience.
Companies must make an effort to truly get to know their customers. In understanding and appreciating what their pleasure points are, genuine and meaningful experiences will be nurtured.
Timely, relevant, and significant rewards can enhance emotional connections that will improve brand loyalty.
Stronger brands can be built on solid emotional relationships with the customers. By ensuring that a deep understanding of the emotional motivators is achieved, businesses can design more meaningful milestones along the customer journey. Companies must take care in employing emotional strategies that are complementary to their business objectives to gain customers for life.