Thursday, February 10, 2011

Branding With Heart

As the country’s most celebrated and simultaneously reviled Hallmark Holiday approaches, our thoughts have turned to the importance of emotion… in branding, of course. Companies often think they win based on price, features or functions – and their brand messages reflect this. Comparing Kmart and Target is always a great demonstration of functional vs. emotional marketing. Check out Kmart’s back-to-school commercial from this past fall – while high spirited, it still focuses on the functional benefits of fashion and price, without an emotion that runs deeper than an adrenaline rush. Compare it to Target’s back-to-school ad , which focuses on the feeling of freedom – both mom’s freedom from the kids, and the kids’ freedom to be themselves. Which resonates more for you?

Emotionally devoid branding is especially prevalent in the B2B category. But we must remember that business customers are people too – people with feelings that motivate their work purchases just as they do at home. We have seen several experts suggest that B2B marketing may be better thought of as B2P – Business to Person – marketing, reminding us that there is a human being at the receiving end of our message.

Here are two questions you can ask yourself to ensure that your brand has heart:

1. What do we want stakeholders to FEEL when they interact with our organization?
Be careful here: this is not about what you want them to THINK – you have to identify a legitimate feeling. For instance, they might THINK your product is better than the competition, but they will FEEL smart for purchasing it.

2. What do we deliver that makes our stakeholders LOVE us?
This is the “love it, not leave it” principal. There are basics you must provide that, if you don’t, your customers will leave and go elsewhere. But this is very different from the greatest possible thing you can provide that will ensure that customers love you for all time.

Answering these two questions – and then incorporating those answers into your brand messaging and identity – will ensure that your customers will always be true.