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How to Engage Your Customers with Emotion

How to Engage Your Customers with Emotion

Nan Finkenaur | February 1, 2017 | Branding | No Comments

Have you ever engaged with a brand that made you smile? Has a campaign made you laugh or touched your heart? Chances are, these are the brands you remember well. Connecting with human emotion is critical to the success of design and marketing.

Emotions are a subjective experience. But, it is crucial to integrate human-centered thinking into your branding and design. Consumers are evolving their expectations for brand relationships in a more personal way. A strong brand must communicate with clarity and authenticity. It should be memorable and foster a connection with the intended target market.

Authenticity is critical

A study by Cohen & Wolfe rated the authenticity of more than 1600 brands. They defined authenticity as reliability, respectfulness and reality. Disney ranked number one in their survey, with BMW, Amazon, Apple and Lego among the top ten. Check out the other brands that rate as highly authentic here. Cynicism among consumers is at an all time high. More than ever, brands need to project an honest vibe.

Our writer and designer at Adrenaline, Lynne recently returned from visiting Disney World. She said, “My family had a blast, from the 10-year-old to the 75-year-old. The experience is consistently unforgettable, no matter how many times you’ve been.” Disney delivers on all points of customer service with excellence, focusing on bringing joy to every visitor!

Never write an advertisement you wouldn’t want your family to read. You wouldn’t tell lies to your own family. Don’t tell them to mine.
— David Ogilvy

Study your market

How should you incorporate emotion in your brand to connect with your customer? First, study your target market demographic. What are their age, sex, geographic location, income and ethnicity? What are their values? Interests? Their level of education? Once you understand whom you are targeting, you can explore what moves them on a personal level.

All the elements of your product and branding should be designed to truly speak to the consumer you’ve come to understand. What does your brand stand for? What makes it unique? Why should consumers care?

A fun example: One of my favorite brands is Exploding Kittens, the most supported game in Kickstarter history. All the artwork is hilariously irreverent, and the writing is cohesive and personal. To me, it is just plain funny. The Oatmeal, who illustrates the game, has a strong fan base (4 million Facebook fans!) The personal connection to their consumers is no doubt a huge part of the viral success of the card game. Every bit of the branding is friendly, quirky and honest—consistently so. The brand voice engages like a friend would. Check it out.

The aim of marketing is to know and understand the customer so well the product or service fits him and sells itself. — Peter F. Drucker

Make your brand promise

Once you hone in on your strongest product attributes, consider the essence of what consumers can count on from your brand. Convey compelling benefits in an honest, straightforward manner. And keep that promise every time. You can’t be everything to everybody. Some examples:

BMW says they are “The Ultimate Driving Machine”. They aim to produce only the most efficient and elegant vehicles. BMW makes an aspirational product, positioned perfectly!

Amazon promises “The earth’s biggest selection of products from the Earth’s most customer centric company.” Read more about how Amazon’s brand promise is delivering outstanding results here.

Over the past 10 years, Apple’s brand promise has been a prime example of creating a positive emotional attachment to their products. The playfulness, creativity and cool young vibe of their marketing cultivate our vision of who we are when we use their products.

If you do build a great experience, customers tell each other about that. Word of mouth is very powerful. — Jeff Bezos

Tell a story

From earliest times, people have learned through storytelling. Strong brands, like great teachers, understand that a good story is memorable. Sharing stories takes your target market on a journey—to see themselves as they want to be, experience an adventure, or to validate their lives.

A good story embodies a challenge to be overcome. It must be relatable and fulfill your customer’s needs. Show your customer how they can recognize the benefit through your product. The sell can be subtle, even indirect, but it must be authentic. Your story has to engage with an honest voice and likable personality.

One brand that connects through storytelling is Subaru. Have you seen those ads where a teenager calls home to say they wrecked the car? Or the ones a few years ago where the ad shows a totaled Subaru with the tag line, “They lived.”

Subaru’s storytelling and emotion-driven, brand promise of keeping loved ones safe resonates with me. A few years ago my daughter and I were driving to a family Thanksgiving dinner. Suddenly a car hit the back end of our Subaru Outback. We spun around and shot across several lanes of traffic and a median strip. All four tires blew, but I could still steer the car. We did not flip and we weren’t injured. Subaru nails the personal connection with me—their brand story is true!

Does emotion work in B2B communications?

Absolutely! Your customer in a B2B relationship is human, too. While not a purely emotional transaction, a human connection can reinforce the product benefits, build trust and boost sales. Communicate in natural language and avoid marketing buzzwords. When your message is more human, it becomes more relevant.

What does your consumer want in this space? They want to be seen as making informed choices that benefit the bottom line. They are accountable for their decisions and they want to reduce risk.

A 2007 study by Les Biner and Peter Field found “Emotionally-based campaigns are not only likely to produce very large business effects but also produce more of them, outperforming rational campaigns on every single business measure.” And, “Between 40% and 70% of customers feel emotionally connected to brands like Oracle, Accenture, FedEx, SAP, and Salesforce.” Read more about how to make emotional connections in B2B branding here.

It’s no longer about B2B or B2C—it’s about being human-to-human.
— Karen Walker

Create emotional engagement

Do you ever wonder why people are willing to spend a chunk of change on a Coach bag or a BMW? According to Don Norman in his book Emotional Design, “there are 3 different levels of emotion involved in creating engagement with the consumer:

  1. Visceral—from the initial impact to its appearance.
  2. Behavioral—the total experience of using a product and how it performs.
  3. Reflective—how the product makes you feel.”

I recently bought a winter coat from Cole Haan that meets all the criteria: 1) Refined design combined with beautiful materials—my coat is a joy to touch and see. 2) Every time I wear the coat, I am enveloped in luxurious warmth. 3) In it, I feel beautiful and successful! Visual and experiential, brands can build a story that consumers relate to, and aspire to. All aspects of a brand’s marketing efforts should create a cohesive, targeted message that elicits emotion.

Customers buy for their reasons, not yours. — Orvel Ray Wilson

Define the heart of your marketing plan with a thoughtful assessment of your brand’s essence. Find a unique voice that evokes an emotional response. Then create a story that makes an honest connection with your consumer. Set about delivering your brand consistently at every touch point. For engagement that is memorable, make them smile or tug at their heartstrings!

Add authentic Adrenaline to your branding. Call us at 978-525-4800 today!


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