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CEO Brand Growth Tip #5 – Strike An Emotional Chord

Strike An Emotional Chord

Whether you have a consumer brand or a B2B brand you are still communicating with people. The parallels between making a connection with a brand have many similar steps to making a connection with people. When you meet new people (awareness) there are triggers that a person consciously and subconsciously notes that help determine whether you will like this new person, trust them, become a casual acquaintance or a close friend. Your mind makes some initial emotional and intellectual judgments that place people in buckets until you get to know them better – e.g., smart, funny, helpful, nice, talented, charitable, grounded, family oriented etc. This is true for meeting people in life or in business. The characteristics of the buckets may change but the process is the same. Over time with more frequent interaction you learn more about a person (education). This enables you to form a clearer intellectual and emotional understanding of them to consciously determine how much more you’d like to get to know and be with or work with them (engagement).

Therefore, to start you need to think about your brand having a personality that appeals to your target audience. Regardless of whether you have a consumer or a B2B brand, your brand’s personality needs to make your target audience notice something special about your brand that makes them want to learn more to see if they are interested in becoming engaged with your brand.

The first mistake many brands make is they brag. They love to talk about themselves. It is all about their “features” and characteristics and why they are the best. Who likes a person who does that? It’s an emotional turn-off. I find this is more pronounced on the B2B side where numerous websites just list their brand features and capabilities with little mention of how they help a potential customer. “We do this – call us” just isn’t very appealing.

It’s much better to assume they listen to WII-FM (What’s In It For Me?). How precisely is your target going to benefit by getting to know you better? What and how do you need to educate them so that they engage with you? If you have successfully completed developing your P.E.P. Talk (see Brand Growth Tip #3 - P.E.P. Talk) you will have outlined the intellectual “Proposition” – the reason you “propose” that your target should get to know your brand better.

But then comes mistake #2. A Proposition is a set of words to outline the benefits of why a target should engage with your brand. It is rational, not emotional. The purpose of developing the proposition is to provide guidance to the “creative team” to create a message, via any combination of words, visuals, designs, audio etc. that is not just rationally, but importantly also emotionally compelling to the target. Too often brands stop at the rational without allowing creative ideas and concepts to emotionally deliver the message. Why? It can be jarring. It may seem risky. No one wants to be criticized or have customers and prospects make fun of them. But parallel a brand personality with people. There are plenty of smart capable people but sometimes they are dry, serious, dare I say dull, even boring. I recently spent some time looking at the websites of dozens of B2B software companies. Sure, some of it was I didn’t know the industry and I’m not a techie – but, as the icon says so succinctly…OMG! They have skills, capabilities, features and some spoke to benefits – but nothing was emotionally compelling. The brand names, the designs etc. were mostly not memorable nor engaging.

Hence the need to Strike An Emotional Chord. Competition just to be seen or heard is fierce. The cost for getting your message out via advertising is exorbitant, even though digital gives us more ways to narrowly target and measure real impact. Social media posting is theoretically free but unless you are interesting and striking emotional chords, you’re not going to get many followers or engagement. It’s why there are social media agencies and paid influencers. Hence, not free.

However, Striking An Emotional Chord via a creative representation of your brand’s proposition that establishes your brand’s personality can be a beautiful thing. Just like with meeting new people, if done properly people will notice, like, remember and want to engage with you.

Creativity is the act of looking at something in a new, different, imaginative way to generate a different approach. It can be subtle, refined, fun, heartfelt or crazy comical. Who would have thought that the insurance industry, which is typically a boring but serious necessity, would have gecko’s, cavemen, emu’s etc. competing for attention. But for a simple message of “Save 15% or more” it worked. Other’s followed.

Finally, does it matter? Does being creative work? While I could point to numerous brands that have used brilliant creative and design to become worldwide brand leaders, I found this interesting study from Nielsen on the key determinants when it comes to advertising effectiveness. The link is below but in summary, while it has declined in importance over the past decade due to significantly more media options with strong targeting, “Creative Is Still King” being by far the largest determinant of a brands performance:

Creativity 47%

Media Reach 22%

Brand 15%

Targeting 9%

Recency 5%

Context 2%

Creativity works. Strike that emotional chord for better results. People will like you for it.


BE VIGILANT: During this difficult time with COVID-19 it only takes one misstep, one touch of the face after touching a counter, one breath from an infected friend/co-worker/relative, one unwashed hand and your life can be forever changed, even ended. BE SAFE


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