What are the ads that you best remember from last year? And why? I am prepared to bet that it was because of the emotional response – they made you smile or cry, feel happy, sad, angry, worried… all emotional responses. The same is true for memorable brands: they produce an emotional response. They may be more subtle than the belly laugh or pathos you felt when viewing a short commercial, but the emotions a brand can instill are valuable assets.
Initial brand choice and selection is the result of very fast decision making, usually much faster than you are consciously aware. However, emotional attachment to a brand is a feature of the brand relationship. As with any relationship, different people want to get different things from it. Relationships are not static, but dynamic, changing over time, and at different times we look for different emotional experiences. With a car brand for example, the overriding emotion maybe reassuring comfort, but at times the owner may want to experience excitement or perhaps a sense of fun.
Like a marriage, a brand relationship needs work to sustain it over time. The brand steward must be sensitive to his or her audiences’ emotional needs and continually refresh them.
Any serious brand owner will have carefully assessed the needs and values of his audience and have ensured that the brand offer and proposition match them. You will have done a review of your brand values and throughly understand them. But what about the emotional capital? Time applied to understanding the emotional attachment stakeholders have or want from their relationship with your brand is time well spent. Find out how your customers feel – does their brand relationship make them happy, proud, reassured or excited? Does it give them a sense of fun, tension or camaraderie?
Relationships rarely break down for pragmatic reasons, even though we may try to use them to justify the breakdown after the event. I remember someone once saying that, “The opposite to love is not hate – it’s indifference.” Make sure your customers’ emotional needs are met so that your brand relationship does not end up in the divorce courts.