If you have spent anytime on this blog you know that it is my belief that emotion is the final arbiter of consumer choice. There really is an oversimplified reason for this that deals with the fact that emotional response is one of the few “triggers” we as humans possess that can take a long time to be changed. For marketers, this is great news as it gives you more fertile ground and, more importantly, a longer lasting foundation to build your brand. It is in ideas where brands are most successful.
When we typically think of most brands today, we think of a specific product/feature set that makes up that brand. Brands attempt to identify themselves by claiming “things” like “good service,” “caring employees,” “good quality,” “heritage,” and so on. Brands even attempt claim an evolutionary advancement in a product category as their brand flavor of the day.
Things like those can never be a surrogate for a brand. Each of the preceding descriptions are easily copied and transferred to competitors product offerings. Evolutionary technology is great until a competitor copies it or develops a better technology. Other values like “good quality” and “good service” should be characteristics of any company wanting to remain in business. Have you ever purposefully bought a brand because of its terrible quality or rude customer service?
For brands, using descriptors such as these to build a brand has two major pratfalls. First, any space that you can etch out in your target audiences mindspace is quickly replaced by a competitor when they become the “latest and greatest.” Secondly, as everyone in a given category are often offering target audiences similar product features and benefits, a litany of rational reasons like “good service” and “caring people” do not provide any reason for a potential customer to choose, especially if they believe they are already getting that benefit from their current provider.
This is why uncovering emotional connections with the target audience is so important. Once that emotional connection is made, it is extremely difficult for a competitor to come in and displace that emotional connection. Unlike a company harping on its quality of service, brands built on emotion are not constantly forced to re-position their brands based on whatever the industry marketing flavor of the day is. Emotional connection is the only insulator from competitive pressures.
For most companies, the whole concept of developing a persuasive emotional message rather than concentrating on category benefits or promises of the latest widget is largely ignored. You can name almost any category and find a whole host of market players attempting to get you to choose its product or service because it’s the best, newest, or has the most experienced employees.
The unfortunate truth is that marketers are often grasping at straws because they do not have anything better to say. The ramifications of this is seen with the rotating carousel of ad agencies companies go through, often ending up with one they fired only because it was that agency’s turn again – still without a message to properly execute.
Think about the way you are currently marketing. Ask yourself, “What does my company mean?” If your response is “good people,” “expertise,” or “quality products,” then you may be fooling yourself in believing you have etched out a space in your target audience’s mind when, in fact, all you have done is created a space that is ripe for a competitor to take over.