How do you get your audience to actually care about your brand? Why should they do business with you over a competitor? And how do you build a brand so strong that it has an invested and loyal following?
It’s all down to how you make people feel.
As much as consumers like to think they are savvy, comparing the prices and features of multiple brands, research suggests this is not actually the case.
In fact, studies carried out by Harvard professor Gerald Zaltman show what consumers really think and feel contradicts what they say.
Zaltman gleaned this insight by studying the unconscious physical reactions of consumers.
Studies completed by neuroscientists have found that people whose brains are damaged in the area that generates emotions are incapable of making decisions.
This shows us that what really drives consumer behaviour is emotion.
This concept is critical when it comes to branding, because so many of us use our rational minds to try to market and sell products, and speak to clients about the logical inclusions of a service or the physical features of a product.
Meanwhile, your audience is likely zoning out at that point because you haven’t been able to make them feel anything.
They’re not excited or angry or inspired, so they don’t take any action.
So let’s dive into a few ways brands truly connect with — and therefore convert — customers and clients.
Decide on the emotions you want your audience to feel
Think back to the last significant purchase you made.
How did you feel? Was there an energetic charge behind the decision to buy?
It’s important to be able to see real instances of this at play in your own life so you well and truly grasp the concept and the penny drops.
Now think about your own product or service.
How do you want your audience to feel as they interact with it?
Excited? Inspired? Joyful? Angry?
Note that when we speak about desired emotions, it does not always need to be positive.
You may want to appeal to someone’s frustration and get them angry about the pain-points in their life right now. And for them to buy your product or service to help make a change to this pain-point. Anger can be good in this instance.
Perhaps you can pair it with another emotion, such as angry yet determined. This would work really well for brands that are going against the norm and want their audience to really connect to the frustration of continuing to live the way they are with their existing problems.
Once you decide on your desired emotion(s), keep this at the forefront of everything you do.
Write the emotion on a post-it note and stick it to your desktop. And any time you create anything for your brand, make sure it’s going to connect to people on this level.
Weave storytelling through your branding
Think back to the example above of the most recent significant purchase you’ve made.
What do you believe about this brand?
It’s very likely that you know a lot of stories about the brand over and above its features and benefits.
For example, you may know that it only sources the most ethical, quality, local ingredients. Or that it has won awards for its innovation. Or that you find the founder very relatable.
It’s all of these stories that compound and make us feel something about a brand.
People want to be able to relate and to picture brands fitting into their lifestyle. It is through stories that we connect as humans.
Think of all the ads for furniture or even cars.
Do you see the product in a display window listing the benefits of the product? No. You see them in real-life scenarios, aspirational ones perhaps, that allow the audience to visualise themselves experiencing the brand.
Some great ways to do this are to tell stories about how it feels to use your brand. This can be done through case studies, using influencers or telling stories of what happens behind the scenes in your business.
It’s also very beneficial to have great brand messaging to begin with, as well as a solid brand strategy to use as your guide.
Create a cohesive brand that reflects that emotion
Your visual brand and your messaging give out signals that help people feel emotion, and so you need to be very mindful of what you put out there.
When creating branded materials, keep your target emotion front and centre.
Continually ask: ‘Does this logo/website/paragraph elicit the desired feeling?’ This should be your guiding light.
For example, if you want people to feel welcome, comfortable and at ease when they interact with your brand, you don’t want to only use super curated and polished images of yourself and your product, as this may come across as intimidating.
Equally, you wouldn’t want to use a harsh all-caps font which may come across as domineering.
Instead, try using some off-the-cuff shots, relatable and conversational language, and a rounded lowercase font that feels more open and inviting.
Your colour palette should use warmer inviting tones rather than cool monochrome hues.
These may be subtle things, but there is great power in subtlety.
So much of our brain is on autopilot, so you need to ensure your brand is giving signals to your audience’s subconscious mind too.
Branding really is part art and part science! But it’s so important to consider these factors to create not just a business, or a logo, but an iconic brand that will stand the test of time.