Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Why "emotional branding" only works for clear brands

As a specialist in emotional branding, I will always put a lot of time and effort into finding out how a brand can find a way to connect with its consumers on a deep emotional level, and avoid the awkward situation where one part (the brand) brags and talks about itself all the time, expecting the other to be super impressed by default...

When you stand on a stage and talk down to people, hoping they will see you, there is a distance between you... No relationship can last forever if it is not equal and built on respect. To be loved you need to know what the other person love and hate, and what would make him/her happy. You need to ask questions and listen to the answers.

Still so many agencies approach a brief with a little meeting with suits, planners and creatives almost having a little focus group, where everyone shares what they think and feel...

Pst. It´s not about you; you´re most likely a middle class white uni educated and trendy person living in the Eastern Suburbs... Building a campaign on your instincts is simply arrogant.

The best brand-consumer bonds are built on a heart meeting a heart. When the brand knows why it exists (beyond "I want to be rich by manipulating people to buy me") and what it offers people, what kind of problem it solves and how it can enhance the life of the consumer in a broader perspective, it can be successful, which lots of research has proven. And to know what problems you solve, you have to know what problems they have, and how they feel about it.

Many marketing directors know the buzzwords. They know they will create "involvement, engagement and sales success" by "emotionalizing" a brand. But few knows how... They want an emotionally powerful campaign - but even if that in theory is leading to people remembering the ad, it doesn´t work if the "emotion" is not defined. Do you want the target to be happy, sad, concerned, excited, calm, safe or shocked?

I believe the magic happens on a brand definition level, rather than on an advertisement creation level. A brand that has a vague personality, not really knowing what values it stands for, will be hard to market successfully through a TVC. If you don´t know what kind of emotions you wish to evoke in people and why, how can you create ads that are "emotional"?

According to Millward Brown´s paper "Should my advertising stimulate an emotional response?" the best ad combines messages for the heart with messages for the brain. They are both rational and emotional. But there is a difference between small and established brands. Smaller brands should not just sell on emotions - it needs to first build trust with facts and data. Larger, more established brands can on the other hand play with our subconscious feelings, which take the facts into consideration.

This is most likely because the established brands have built a strong base. People know what they stand for, because they have put time and effort into creating a clear brand image. If they hadn´t, they would not be established... Many brands fail before getting big.

In the report from Millward Brown there is lots of stats on how an emotional approach is more effective, and  I do believe this. Your brand needs to be clever though. Just "being emotional" is not enough. Just using the buzz words won´t help.

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