Part I: Branding Emotion, Consistency and Frequency

We buy stuff from people we like, right? We also buy from people who we trust, who build our self-esteem, who validate us, and satisfy a multitude of other needs. So why do we go to stores we hate or use vendors we don’t trust? You probably have numerous reasons but most boil down to having a strong relationship with the brand, even when we have become disenchanted. Understanding what emotions are tied to a brand is not something most businesses think about, yet we should. Every product or service that is truly branded involves some emotion, either in its use, people who represent it, our memories or solutions that work.

I got my first car in the early 70s. For $50 down and $125 a month, I graduated from college and stepped into my bright yellow Volkswagon. For decades, Volkswagon has been the fun but affordable brand, from the flower on the dash to the “Drivers wanted” days of the Passat and beyond. What is that commitment like Volkswagon’s fun yet affordable makes our own brand perform as promised? You probably have a brand truth, the words which often play out in a tagline, a slogan, or some other key message. Are your customers and potential customers aware of your brand truth? People buy based on personal motivations derived from some set of values they hold. These are emotional.

Just do it. Got milk? You can think of a dozen brands in a few seconds. What makes these brands gain remarkable awareness may be that they represent great products, but usually an element of branding cuts through the rest of the clutter we are exposed to every day. A word of caution when you think of your own business though: short doesn’t always mean memorable, clear, or effective. I “periodically hear financial advisors, consultants, and other service-oriented professionals say in describing their business, “I help people increase their revenue.” This may insult the intelligence of their listeners. Messages should come from an analysis of what specifically differentiates how to increase revenue.

Understanding the emotion your brand offers is just one exercise to work through during a weakened economy. You should also review your strategies for brand’s consistency and frequency. It takes more than seven exposures within a short period of time for your brand to make a lasting impression on your market targets. During the recession, if you maintain consistency in branding your brand, your market targets will be that much more aware that others in your industry have cut back or disappeared. It’s like “whatever happened to ….”. It is critical to maintain consistency in everything from brand truth to commitment long after the excitement of a new marketing campaign or promotion dissipates. Too often, businesses change a campaign before they need to or even worse, just never complete the strategies to make an impact on potential customers.

The old saying “don’t start something you can’t finish” doesn’t apply today. Engage everyone to implement the branding plan and understand that it should never be finished. The strategies should have depth and longevity in mind unless something just isn’t working. Start the e-news campaign, the newsletter or the blog with the commitment to maintain it.

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