Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Branding: Making an Emotional Connection

When talking about branding, we most often have to start with a definition—what is a brand?

A brand is a name that stands for something in the mind of the customer. Your brand is your most valuable asset. The goal, therefore, is to define a brand that creates an emotional connection between you and your customers.

What emotions do you want others to feel when then think of you?

Maya Angelou said, "At the end of the day people won't remember what you say or did, they will remember how you make them feel."

We are overwhelmed by thousands of product choices, and we’re all short of time. That’s why the emotional connection is so important. People want the facts (why is this better?) and the emotional connection (why is this right for me?).

The power of appealing to emotion is detailed in Wharton professor Deborah Small’s groundbreaking research. She shows how the use of statistics by non-profits, as opposed to a vivid “identifiable victim,” results in lower giving. People want to hear and be moved by real stories.

You want to unite an idea (your brand) with an emotion. But how do you do that? The best way is to tell a story.

You use a brand, both visually and verbally, to educate your prospective customers about who you are. You tell them both visually (with a logo) and verbally (with a short message that best describes your business and its benefits). The key to creating a strong icon or logo is to paint word pictures. Then compare the word or visual pictures with your description of your business and what sets it apart from the rest of the business world. Think unique, think independent, step outside of your marketing mindset and get creative.

Everything you do stimulates an emotional response whether you want it to or not. Even if you don't know it, you leave every encounter with someone feeling a certain way, whether you meet in person, via social media, or simply by them viewing your business card, flyer or web site. So knowing that, why not be proactive about this and work to stimulate the emotion you want others to feel instead of leaving it to chance?

To take an active role in the emotions you make people feel, start by being aware of what you want to portray and sprinkle it in here and there. Do you use inspirational quotes on social media? (I specifically make sure I do NOT do that since so many others are). Or if you want people to feel excited and alive, do you send out samples of music and music videos that you like?

I send out research, relevant articles, to friends, clients, past clients, potential clients and colleagues. Thus, an emotional connection with me is one of networking, a strong resource, and someone who stays on top of current events and trends. In the online marketplace, it can be easy to get trapped behind a monitor and keyboard.

You have to remember that business is about people, not numbers. It’s about relationships, not computers. In our rapidly evolving business environment, the entrepreneurs who are going to thrive are the ones who engage their clients and build long-term relationships. So get out there and develop your cheerleading squad, refer business to others, join groups and tell your story.

You can purchase my webinar on The Brand Called You or sign up for the BRANDit weekends coming up in Santa Barbara or Iceland. Watch this video from Harpa Georgsdottir, Manager of Rain Deer, who attended our BRANDit workshop in Iceland in October 2010. She talks about the importance of the emotional connection.

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