It is hard for me to imagine managing a brand with any other intent than winning customers the way we win friends. Would you invite me to your home and make me wait at the front door until you got around to answering it? Would you not take my coat or leave me sitting in the living room by myself for half an hour? Would you serve me a warm martini with a hair in it? Would you leave me sitting at the dining room table by myself while you got on the phone to talk to your cousin in Oshkosh? If this sounds like a gruesome picture, compare it to the way some brands appear to operate.
Do you remember the old popular song “Little Things Mean a Lot”? It would make a good anthem for the companies out there who do not understand that a consciousness of doing what you say you will do when you say you will do it is a vital part of what works for a brand.
Many products and services are at parity on the surface. They are virtually indistinguishable to the buyer. This has profound implications for organizations trying to sell products, services and ideas.
How can YOUR brand stand out above all the others?
In the context of a life being lived with all its doubt and certainty, happiness and sadness, it might seem trivial to talk about what part brands play in these engrossing privacies. But we must look there because it's around the doubt and certainty, and within the happiness and sadness, that brand stories must truly reside. And when we think about how we can attract extremely distracted people to our sainted product, we have to think about how it can contribute to their enchanting dramas, how it might find a place within their deeply personal sense of identity, how it can make the journey of their lives easier, better, happier, or somehow more fulfilling.
Looking at how brands affect our subconscious thoughts and feelings provide refreshing insights for all marketers who want to better understand what makes you, me, and the rest of the world tick. Not just for profit but for the sheer fun of getting to know ourselves and our customers as human beings. We are not Affluent Singles, or (my favorite horror) DINKS, meaning Double Income No Kids. These kinds of pigeon holes are artificial designations, known as “segmentations,” to make marketing seem easier, but they lump us into amorphous masses that simply do not align with the way we think of ourselves, our families, or friends and neighbors.
When I say brands are about feelings, not facts, I’m proposing once again that people make buying decisions based on how what they are buying makes them feel. Does it make them feel more confident, secure, cool, pretty, smart, savvy, or happy? Does it represent their values? Would their friends approve? What do their choices say about them as people?
How customers feel isn’t simply important to the marketing and sales department. Chief executives and their financial counterparts have a vital interest in customers' feelings. It is the job of everybody in your company to court customers who have feelings that could turn him or her into loyal converts for your brand. That is why the most important answer you might ever seek is the answer to the title of my new book: How does it make you feel?
Learning to distinguish things by name is one of the first cognitive skills we master. As infants, our first language lessons are identifying people and objects by name—“mommy,” “daddy,” “bottle.” When we say a new name, mommy praises how smart we are. It’s no wonder we like names and naming.
Next time you go to a supermarket to do your regular shopping, watch people get lost to the world as they slowly fill their baskets. Their minds are in a whirl doing a million conscious and unconscious calculations per second. It’s easy to imagine this because you do it, too. That little voice in your head that never shuts up goes a mile a minute as buying decisions based on old stories and new curiosities are made in consultation with the sensible and emotional systems of your brain. It is a totally absorbing, totally human process. And in the end, after all the subliminal cogitation is said and done, it simply has to do with the way you feel about the vast product array before you.
I’ve been involved in shopper insights and shopper marketing since 1998, when the discipline was first created at Procter & Gamble. Over the years, it has been great to see how far we’ve come from developing shopper strategy to optimizing shopper strategy. Lately, I love that more and more brands are realizing their true competitive advantage through mapping the shopper’s emotion-based purchase decisions.