This past week, at a conference in Las Vegas, I heard a fabulous speaker, Ellen Looyen. Ellen is a personal branding expert and a motivational speaker. She has coined the signature phrase “charismatic branding” which she describes as a brand that “energetically communicates uniqueness, value and integrity and causes your market to feel emotionally connected and confident, even if they never heard of your company before!”
She gave a few stellar examples. When asking the class, comprised of 150 people (mostly women) what European car is synonymous with “safety”- in total unison the entire group said “Volvo”. (Well there was one Mercedes Benz, but there is always one in every crowd.) Why this crowd knowledge? Because the company’s targeted, on the spot branding efforts have positioned the Volvo, in the minds of consumers as being safe, if not the safest car in the market today.
Ellen also used Tide detergent as a great example of ingrained brand loyalty. Brand loyalty is so ingrained in many that it motivates us to purchase the same product over and over again without really knowing why—instead we buy based on a truth that we simply “know” and believe. This is brand loyalty. A very powerful brand asset. What the essence of marketing strategy tries to achieve.
Ellen’s “write this down” message is the three key elements to effective branding. While it might seem as if this simplifies the branding process (it does- branding is subtle and requires great skill) these three points should be taken into consideration when strategizing what marketing works for a product or service.
- Make the visual communicate the message. The visual has to match the personality of the product , the targeted market, and also communicate the message visually.
- Generate an emotional response to the visual. The targeted audience must FEEL a reason to care about the product or service. Tug at the heart strings, motivate, inspire, create humor- anything. Just make them have an emotional response that brings them closer to wanting or needing the product or service.
- The rational response (I want to buy this- I need this) flows naturally if visual and emotional has worked. It is not until the visual and emotional combined to form a general perception that a targeted audience can start to think rationally about the product or service. When this happens, and only when this happens, does branding happen, and do sales occur.
Let’s use my creative NYC corecubed off the charts employee Sarah and an unexplained loyalty to Tide as an example. Having grown up in Manhattan, Sarah not only is not a professional laundress, but doesn’t even pride herself on doing laundry very well (and has admitted to shrinking a sweater or two before). So why does she know, in her heart, that Tide is the best product for her?
- The Visual. According to Sarah the bulls eye logo of Tide catches her eye every time. She looks for it and expects it to be there in the aisle. It’s clean, bright and, for her, the logo gets the job done. It doesn’t have stuffed animals on it or silly, flowery messages. It is strong and standard and simple.
- The emotion. Sarah says she can trust Tide. She knows the detergent is strong and will transform her dirty laundry into clean sweet smelling clothes. It will address her needs. She can depend on it. Sarah goes on to say, that Tide, unlike Snuggle, which suffocates Sarah with its “silly” teddy bear mascot, is simple, strong and she can count on it. Tide’s slogan “Tide Knows Fabric Best” is “simple and to the point”, she says. It implies that the chemicals of tide know something about her clothes that other brands don’t. Snuggle Bear might be soft and cuddly—but that bear just doesn’t know how to care for her clothes like Tide does.
- The rational response. Sarah chooses Tide because she simply believes it is the best, unfettered, detergent out there. The combination of logo and message solidified in her mind that Tide is her detergent. Sarah just “knows that Tide will do my laundry right.”
So, in thinking about how to go to market with your product or service, think about your brand loyalty. Are your customers buying your products or services because of the results from experience? Or are they buying because powerful, calculated branding has enticed them to do so?