How to bring emotion back into your branding

Technological progress can be replicated faster than ever. Because everyone is constantly testing and improving, it’s easy for brands to become the same and indistinguishable from one other in communication. Brand experiences are increasingly displaying 'sameness': automated and optimised, but lacking in real emotion. This puts pressure on maintaining brand relevance. How do you bring the emotion back into branding?

emotion branding  iO

Many companies now, quite rightly, focus on digital acceleration. With technology and data freely available, the challenge lies mainly in getting the organisation on board. The ultimate goal that is usually mentioned is to create an optimal, seamless customer experience regardless of the channels. To this end, the main focus is on automating and personalising marketing, and removing friction at every stage of the entire process.

This is great for the consumer. However, every company is currently looking for distinctiveness in technology. Creativity, humanity and emotion are often missing, when it's actually the inclusion of these factors that helps you to acquire a place in the hearts and minds of your target group.

Seeing the value of emotion

There’s emotion in every brand. A price fighter like Ryanair uses every available method to encourage you to purchase extra options, which stands in the way of an optimal user experience, but that aligns perfectly with their brand. But can you name other distinguishing elements that aren’t colour, compared to WizzAir or an EasyJet? A new player who can offer cheaper airline tickets is an exciting novelty but only until another airline emerges that is even cheaper.

The price fighters mainly apply rational binding. Companies that practice emotional bonding enjoy, according to Forrester, a greater degree of customer loyalty and brand preference. In practice, the focus is mainly on improving the customer experience and increasing satisfaction, but that's not the same as the emotions that you create in your customers as a brand. In fact, customers who feel a genuine emotional connection are 52% more valuable to brands than customers who are "very satisfied," according to the Harvard Business Review.

Stay authentic

The biggest challenge for everyone is that the proof of the pudding is always in the eating. This applies just as much to companies as it does to creatives and advertisers. Improving ROI and freeing up employees through automation are the safest choices, but these best practices become bland practices when everyone applies them, and thus not very distinctive. Another important consideration is that the younger generation of consumers expects more and more from brands: sustainability, social responsibility and inclusiveness. Pretending to be green – so-called green washing – can have the opposite effect, as Shell experienced, for example. You have to be authentic and ask yourself whether your sustainable message is credible, don't overembelish it.

Find the intensification

Emotional bonding is about generating positive emotions. That sounds like hot air, and as an advertising executive I'll be the first to confess that it often is. We always increase an advantage, translate it into a unique promise, but it’s not something that just happens in the blink of an eye. It has to be right. Ultimately, it is about creating core values ​​that you as a brand can share with your target group. That's how you create meaning. Of course every modern car is safe, yet Volvo scores better on this in its customers’ brand perceptions. The FrieslandCampina chef's cream, for which I've been campaigning for seventeen years, enriches your soup just like any other brand, but the culinary team that comes with it helps you with new applications and culinary ideas. Concrete sewage pipes are a product that has very little sparkle, until we see it with the campaign 'Your health lies underground' for Betonhuis. That’s the essential link to something with emotional appeal.

In Start With Why (and also in his Ted Talk) Simon Sinek suggests an easy to apply model for this. Shift your focus from the what and the how to the why.

Burst your bubble

Consumers don't want brand stories, especially when they are too difficult and complicated. This is often the result of a series of workshops between agency and brand. Everyone rides the same ideas horse and understands each other completely, but the target group's language is lost. The result is a frenzied campaign that is clearly trying too hard. Dan Heath explains the process (and how to avoid it) in great detail in this video about writing with purpose:

Youtube thumbnail

Successful advertising campaigns have an impact by keeping it simple. Just like the slogan of the Tax Authorities: We can't make it more fun, but we can make it easier. Making it simple is what is often lacking. Marketing is by definition a profession with highly educated people who conduct research, formulate reports and insights and process them into briefings. The job of creatives is to translate this into something that appeals to, understands and resonates with a wider audience. When you keep your why simple, everyone will understand and then it’s easier to make that emotional connection.

Test your creativity

Sooner or later it happens to every creative person and you have to learn to kill your darlings. A creative approach to the brand message is great, but it has to result in an effective campaign. The biggest pitfall here is that the rules of a marketing tool should never limit creativity. Like a video on Facebook: according to best practices, this should have stopping power , show the product in the first three seconds in a take out, and display the logo three times. But this makes your video look like a Media Markt advertisement. And if everyone is doing the same, how do you stand out?

So let your creativity run free, but test continuously. Start a conversation with your target audience from the start. Does your concept resonate? Does the prototype strike a chord? Does the expression also move your target group? Is the campaign doing what it's supposed to do? Pick up every step with fresh creativity. This way you gradually give your branding more emotional relevance with optimal results.

This article was originally published on Emerce.nl

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Sander Antwerpen | iO

Successful advertising campaigns have an impact by keeping it simple. Just like the slogan of the Tax Authorities: We can't make it more fun, but we can make it easier. Making it simple is what is often lacking. Marketing is by definition a profession with highly educated people who conduct research, formulate reports and insights and process them into briefings. The job of creatives is to translate this into something that appeals to, understands and resonates with a wider audience. When you keep your why simple, everyone will understand and then it’s easier to make that emotional connection.

Test your creativity

Sooner or later it happens to every creative person and you have to learn to kill your darlings. A creative approach to the brand message is great, but it has to result in an effective campaign. The biggest pitfall here is that the rules of a marketing tool should never limit creativity. Like a video on Facebook: according to best practices, this should have stopping power , show the product in the first three seconds in a take out, and display the logo three times. But this makes your video look like a Media Markt advertisement. And if everyone is doing the same, how do you stand out?

So let your creativity run free, but test continuously. Start a conversation with your target audience from the start. Does your concept resonate? Does the prototype strike a chord? Does the expression also move your target group? Is the campaign doing what it's supposed to do? Pick up every step with fresh creativity. This way you gradually give your branding more emotional relevance with optimal results.

This article was originally published on Emerce.nl

Gillie Rokromo
Author
Gillie Rokromo
Creative Director - iO

Gillie embodies an old-school approach at – and great love for – the advertising craft and the stories therein. With the world leaning on data, Gillie advocates raw, unbridled creativity to capture the tale behind the brief in a single emotion. No safety in numbers but plenty of uncharted territory, right where the best stories are.

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