Unique branding: creating emotional connections
The branding process is often underrated, undervalued or overlooked by marketers. It’s easy to see why - major technological innovations, new competitors entering the market, changing customer needs, you need to keep a lot of balls in the air. However, a unique and memorable brand could not be more important, especially in this crowded, always-on marketplace. Did you know that there are more than 500,000 brands worldwide?
All the more reason to not just build a business, but a strong brand as well. A brand that is bigger than what you’re selling and invokes the right emotions. This is by no means a straightforward task.
The basics of branding
Contrary to popular beliefs of “marketing begins with customer”, building your brand should be your first priority. Branding goes further than your logo or tagline. Customers are looking for brands that are real, authentic and a memorable experience that they can share with others. At the end of the day, customers won’t always remember what you did or what you told them, but they will definitely remember how you made them feel.
Branding is the process of clarifying and refining the emotional meaning behind your business strategy and its relationship to your customer. It’s about knowing who you are as a brand, what you stand for and why you are in business. If this is not clear, how can you communicate and connect with customers? You can’t, at least not in a memorable and meaningful way.
Once you have a clear and compelling identity, the next step is incorporating this into all aspects of your business. Every product, every word, every image...should reflect your brand. This will define your legacy.
Creating emotional connections
To create emotional connections between your brand and your target audience, you need to understand their goals, motivations, frustrations and pains. It’s way too easy to get caught up in the campaigns you’re running, numbers you’re analyzing and content you’re creating. We should not forget that there is an actual person at the receiving end of our marketing and that person is an emotional human being.
Relationships are about people and building an emotional connection humanizes your brand and leaves a lasting impression. Research has shown that creating emotional connections has a greater impact on business results than customer satisfaction. Which, when you come to think about it, is not really that surprising. We don’t build strong connections with people because they are useful. We build working relationships with people who are useful. Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with that. But to build a strong relationship that lasts, we also need to feel an emotional connection.
One of the ways to connect with customers is through storytelling. Stories can bring your brand to life. They can show customers how you can make an impact on their lives and not just what your product can do. Craft stories from the heart and soul of your brand and be prepared to be remembered by customers and potential customers for a long time.
Simplifying the complicated
There’s no doubt that building brands is complex. Because of the many elements and dimensions, it’s key to start with constructing a solid foundation first. You can do this by fine-tuning your purpose, mission and vision - basically your values and beliefs. This foundation will give you a clear direction about where your brand is going and why it’s going there.
From there, you create a brand personality customers can relate to by adding human characteristics to your brand. Which will translate itself into a unique brand identity. The foundation, personality and identity make up your brand architecture and need to consist of at least the following elements:
- Name & tagline: your brand name and tagline are one of the first things customers come in touch with and see of your brand. A strong tagline is often a translation of the brand narrative and reflects what your brand stands for and believes in.
- Tone of voice: giving your brand a tone and a voice makes your brand easier to identify with. It will give customers the feeling that they know you. When properly defined it’s not difficult to keep your tone of voice consistent across all content, channels and touchpoints. A unique voice will set your brand apart in the mind of your audience.
- Brand website: a website is the most comprehensive expression of your brand. It’s the center of your customer experience and plays a crucial role in any customer journey. It’s the place where all brand elements come together. A site completes your brand experience in an impactful way.
- Identity design: your brand identity categorizes all personality elements of your brand. Design impacts this identity in many ways; you want something that will reinforce your brand’s personality and leaves a memorable and unique impression. From typography, photography and illustrations all the way to color palette, no detail is too small when it comes to creating the design for your brand.
It’s tough to define what a brand stands for and then communicate that consistently in everything that you do. You need skills to understand your brand, what it stands for and how to connect this with an audience. These are precisely some of the skills that are lacking today and why so many brands look-alike. Managing customer expectations always starts with a strong, clear and consistent brand. It’s a crucial and powerful starting point for any experience that you develop.