ON BRANDING: TRUTH TOLD BEAUTIFULLY “Great Brands Don’t Sell Product, They Sell Emotion”

Most brands spend thousands of dollars a year on advertising campaigns, event sponsorship and other promotions. But for small businesses which do not have the luxury of large marketing budgets, how do you attract more customers and move them from loyalist to advocates?

What sets brands like Nike apart from the crowded market for sporting goods or Coco Cola from other fizzy drinks? How did Apple make such a big commercial come back in 1997? What are these brands doing differently? Well you might say they have bigger marketing budgets, but it goes deeper than that and I will share their secret sauce.

These companies focus on combining several key ingredients: the absence of product, drawing attention to their core values by telling truth beautifully and making universal understood emotional connections. Here are some of the ways great brands tap into the hearts of their customers and keep them coming back:

#1 Sell Universal Emotions

Regardless of how rational people claim to be, emotions rule our daily lives. People generally make decisions based on how they feel at a particular time. Psychologist, Robert Plutchik developed the emotion wheel and identified 8 primary emotional dimensions: happiness vs. sadness, anger vs. fear, trust vs. disgust, and surprise vs. anticipation. Often great brands influence our behaviour by tapping into our positive emotions. Tag Heuer taps into our trust emotion and challenges our fears by asking What are you made of?.

Coco- Cola has built its brand around the concept of happiness and is able to create subliminal perception with its Open Happiness message. Their advertising often portrays this emotion with various real life experiences. Coco-Cola hardly ever talks about the product, how great it taste, the unique recipe or any product centered information. Instead they have focused on great storytelling, showing people enjoying life and sharing happy moments. This is the secret of Coco-Cola’s success in connecting with customers. Coco-Cola is always at the center of various positive experiences, the kind of happiness that almost everyone can relate to, regardless of demographic, socio-economic and cultural factors. The emotions that they tap into are universal. It’s no surprise that Pharell Williams “HAPPY” was the most successful song of 2014 with 13.9 million units sold world-wide. People love to feel happy and be associated with happiness.

  1. Hero vs. Villain

For as long as anyone can remember, stories of heroes vs. villains have always captured our hearts and emotions. Walt Disney is a global success because of the brand’s ability to create stories that capture our imagination, illustrating the setbacks, challenges and pain, while leaving us with the sweet satisfaction of victory and happily ever after.

Nike which means “victory” and uses athletes at the top of their game, pushing their limits to ensure victory against their (mental or external) opponents. The athletes wearing Nike in its commercials, show the brand at the center of their journey to success and the achievement of greatness. It always uses ordinary people achieving their goals. This subtle message allows the audience to associate “achievement” with the brand.

  1. Simple and Actionable Message

Great brands like Apple, Nike and Patek Philippe all have very simple taglines that can be universally understood. Apple’s “Think Differently” tagline was launched for the first time in 1997, when Steve Jobs decided to move the company’s branding in the direction of product less marketing. Apple realized that it had been spending millions of dollars on advertising yet the company nearly hit bankruptcy before Steve Jobs returned and turned things around. The commercials became more purpose driven, inspirational and affirmed that thinking different is an ingredient of greatness. The tagline challenges the customer to think different and challenge the status quo much like Apple.

Nike’s Just Do It is an epic tagline that will be talked about for generations to come. This three-word statement is a motivator all by itself. It is a call to action, it sends a message of drive and accomplishment. It is simple yet, everyone, regardless of culture, can relate to it. Finally, Patek Philippe’s tagline Begin your own tradition is simple yet very effective in connecting emotionally with its target audience. Their campaigns highlight the universal emotion of the father son relationship. Almost everyone can relate to that special piece of jewellery or watch that has been passed down from one generation to the next. If you never had this tradition in your family, then they are challenging you to begin.

Therefore, the key is to connect with the things that matter to people combined with a “call to action” message. Your brand does not need to rant and rave about features and benefits all the time. There is a saying, you gain more from giving. Let the success, joy and achievements of real people speak for your brand. Tap into the emotions that matter to your target audience and do so artfully through great storytelling. Rick Julian said there is nothing more memorable than truth beautifully told.

About the Author:

Hanna Fitz is the founder and Chief Brand Strategist at Seashell Consulting Inc. She has worked with a number of companies in the Caribbean and Europe to find solutions to their #1 problem “getting more customers”.  She has a first class honours degree in Corporate Management from Anglia Ruskin University, a LLM in International Commercial Law from Northumbria University, Certificate in Managing Luxury brands, Certified Project Manager and Inbound Marketer.  Follow her on Twitter @HannaGFitz



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