Hey everybody; Welcome back to another blog article. Ok, let’s dive right into this one…
So, my team just sent out an email the other day to all of you that are on my mailing list, and it was on a CRUCIAL topic that is SUPER IMPORTANT when it comes to the continued success and survival of any and every single business in existence. If a business does NOT do this one key thing, they simply will not survive and will ultimately end up falling into a condition of being irrelevant. It’s BRANDING and creating strong BRAND AWARENESS.
We are already well into 2019 at this point, and it’s no secret that the marketing environment has changed significantly over the last few years. One thing, however, has remained consistently important and that is BRANDING. In fact, branding is more important today than it’s ever been. And building brand awareness is one of the MOST IMPORTANT aspects of your marketing.
Now, undoubtedly you ALL have heard the word “branding” pretty often. It has become somewhat of a buzzword in business today. But before we go any further, let’s define what branding IS, and then we’ll get into why it is so important.
What is branding?
Wikipedia actually does a great job of providing a definition of what the term branding means as used in this context. They state: “A brand is an overall experience of a customer that distinguishes an organization or product from its rivals in the eyes of the customer. Brands are used in business, marketing, and advertising.”
Given the above definition of what a brand itself is, let’s suffice it to say that BRANDING is the process of creating mass awareness of your brand.
The important thing to notice here is that this particular definition includes absolutely nothing about logos, colors, or catchy slogans, but focuses solely on the experience that a consumer has. It’s essential to understand, though, that all of those tangible things are tools that can help to create and facilitate this experience — but they are definitely not the final objective in creating a distinguishable brand.
Let’s take a little time here and talk about some MAJOR brands. The Giants that stand out from the rest. You just might recognize some of these names (haha). While you look at these names, as they come to mind, you’ll begin to really see that when you actually take a moment to think about it, Products are never simply JUST products.
Coca-Cola is more than a soda. Starbucks is more than a coffee. And let’s NOT forget about Apple. It’s MUCH more than phones, computers, iPads, etc…as a result of some of the most creative branding ever, Apple is an Experience and a LIFESTYLE.
Interacting with all of these products provide experiences, and we the public buy them with that experience in mind. The thing about it is that the companies that create and market these products know EXACTLY the type of experience they want you to have when you make (or consider) a purchase. That’s why they create a brand. And HOW do these iconic brands create an experience? I’ll tell you how…
THEY APPEAL TO YOUR EMOTIONS!
Coca Cola is pretty good…if you like colas. But there are many other colas out there that taste nearly IDENTICAL to Coke. Starbucks has really good coffee, yes — I drink it all the time. But there are many people who have said that they like the taste of Dunkin’ donuts coffee better. Yet Starbucks is the leading brand, and their prices are reputed for being considerably higher than most, yet they are THE MOST IN-DEMAND coffee brand. Why? Could it because they appeal to their audiences’ FEELINGS?
Coca-Cola’s “Share A Coke – Share a feeling” campaign is a prime example of how the soft drink company successfully plays into the emotions of their customers. The branding effect worked so well that huge numbers of people began taking photos with their coke cans in hand, and posting them on their social media with the #shareacoke hashtag. And that drives more personal online media content, which of course leads to many, many shares. (GENIUS, isn’t it?)
And how many of you remember THIS one 👇 from Coca Cola?
Yep – the “Hug Me” campaign. This one came out circa 2012. This one was pretty brilliant as well. They made special coke machines that gave out free cans of Coke in exchange for a person hugging the machine. This one was especially popular among the teens and adolescents.
In essence, the “Share a Coke — Share a Feeling” and “Hug Me” campaigns basically used the same concept, except the fact that “Share a Coke” targets a broader demographic: children, young adults AND adults of all ages, and by putting emojis on cans (and bottles), it serves a creative way of giving people a means to share their emotions with their friends, loved ones and peers. In the case of the “Hug Me” campaign, the machine looked inviting with the words “Hug Me” displayed boldly on the front of it, and many people did just that, and got their free beverage. According to a press release about one of the special machines which was placed at the National University of Singapore, the campaign was the result of an initiative called “Open Happiness”.
“Whether you were hugging the machine or experiencing the event online, our goal was the same – to put a smile on your face and share that emotional connection,” Coca-Cola Company spokesman Leonardo O’Grady said in the release. “Reactions were amazing… people really had fun with it and at one point we had four to five people hugging the machine at the same time as well as hugging each other!”
These types of emotional campaigns have a significant impact when the consumer experiences a strong and lasting attachment to the brand comparable to a feeling of bonding, companionship or love among community, family and individuals overall.
Okay, so let’s take a moment now to touch on Starbucks and their emotional branding.
Does this one ☝️ look familiar? If you’re a Starbucks patron, or if you ever have been, this should look familiar to you. Starbucks uses constantly-changing decals on their store windows, and these create an emotional connection between customers and the brand. This type of sign on the windows celebrate the emotion of coffee. Another brilliant and strategic move of theirs: Every Christmas Holiday season, the red cups make their annual appearance. Around the world, people see those red Starbucks cups and by conditioning, they connect the meaning of it with the start of the holidays. Not only that, Starbucks has even been known to actually ANNOUNCE the arrival of the red cups at that time of year. WOW. And another thing, Starbucks also builds an emotional involvement with customers by having such a strong awareness and commitment to the environment (example: selling reusable hot beverage “sleeves” to discourage the use of paper/cardboard ones, AND selling reusable plastic cups which look just like their paper cups). I know you are seeing the point now. So, let’s move on to the last — but definitely NOT the least of these BIG three Emotional Branding Masters that I’m going to mention here today…
APPLE. Here’s the thing with them in particular: They have a HUGE challenge to continue to live up to, and they do it EVERY TIME. These guys don’t sell beverages. They deliver the most innovative, beautifully designed, ergonomic and leading cutting-edge technology products, and they do it CONSISTENTLY, all while staying connected on a deeply intimate level with their customers. The brand is LOVED, and there is a true sense of COMMUNITY among users of its product lines. (A prime example of this is my own company. I’m pretty certain that 100% of my staff uses some main Apple products, and if not 100%, it has to be 99% of them at the very least.) Their branding strategy focuses on the emotions in just about every facet. The starting point is how an Apple product EXPERIENCE makes you FEEL.
The Apple brand personality is about lifestyle, innovation, imagination, and power-to-the-people through technology. Granted, YES, they STAY on the TOP of the game and are always on the leading edge when it comes to delivering the very BEST in devices, but they are MUCH more than devices.
So…what is it about EMOTIONS that make branding so over-the-top powerful? Here’s why:
Here’s the deal…PEOPLE BUY BASED ON EMOTIONS!
That’s right. Contrary to what many people tend to believe, people make purchasing decisions based on how they FEEL. This is what I mean by that: In classic economic theory, consumers are rational, and they make choices from the part of their brain which considers all relevant information and does all of the “reasoning”. Neuroscience shows that this is actually NOT true. EMOTIONS ARE MORE POWERFUL. Not completely convinced? Ok. Check out this 1-minute commercial…
This was from a few years ago when the Cleveland Cavaliers won the NBA Championship, and Nike congratulated the winning team with this commercial. Now tell me that watching that didn’t strike an emotional chord with you, whether you’re a Cavs fan or not…even if you’re not a BASKETBALL fan at all, the sheer emotion of the people of Cleveland and throughout Ohio is contagious to the viewer. Cleveland held its breath for YEARS waiting for that moment…they knew that it would happen, and when it finally DID, it was worth the wait for every single one of them. (And you can believe without a doubt that Nike’s sales went through the stratosphere after that.) That’s the power of EMOTIONAL BRANDING.
Here’s another example:
So, how many of you have heard the saying “A diamond is forever”? The company known as DeBeers reaped multi-billion fortunes in the engagement ring niche with their emotionally driven magazine ads and television commercials. And their story is absolute PROOF that people not only purchased based on emotion, but that given the right circumstances and the right emotional stimulus, EMOTION OUTWEIGHS PRICE.
Okay, so I believe that the point is driven home now on how the top brands are in demand: They appeal to the EMOTIONS. So the thing for you to do as a marketer is to figure out how to appeal to the emotions of your audience. One of the best and most ethical ways to do it is to start with the WHY (which elicits emotion) instead of the WHAT. So many businesses and brands like to go on and on about WHAT they do, WHAT they sell, WHAT their products are and WHAT makes them so great. But the GREATEST brands…like the Apples of the world, start with WHY…then goes into HOW…and then, finally, the WHAT. Next week, I’m going to continue this and go a bit further. I want to help you to LEVEL UP YOUR BRANDING, so stay tuned.
See you in the next article.