7 Dimensions for Creating an Emotional Connection with Your Brand

Posted by Tom Smith on Fri, Oct, 25, 2013 @ 06:10 AM

emotional connection to the brand






Your brand is the heart and soul of your business.

Humans have a hard-wired need to have a relationship with other humans, as well as the functional and fun items and tools we use in our daily lives.

Consumers typically have the most powerful connection to their smartphone engaging with it 150 times a day.

While we love novelty and change, we also have a strong need for constancy and commitment.

Brands serve a vital human purpose. They give identity, meaning and connectivity to our experiences and possessions.

Ultimately we want to create a passion for our brand with the customer.

This is done on seven dimensions:

1. Form -- the physical manifestation of the brand. Visual as well as audio elements including tone, timber, beat and harmonic qualities. Form is the face and voice of the brand.

2. Function -- those that are indispensable and unique to the brand. Explicit functionality can be easily and well articulated by the consumer and implemented by the product designer. Implicit functionality is found to be valuable and indispensable by the consumer but they have trouble articulating these elements verbally.

3. Feelings -- automatic emotional associations arise at the thought or mention of a brand. Shorthand for a large network of attributes and connections (e.g., place, social setting, occasion; act of preparing; enjoying; post enjoyment; larger cultural context; and, live events or cycle of life).

4. Values -- broader social and moral values that a brand may be connected with either explicitly or implicitly. Values that may be relevant to the essential character of specific brands are: personal, spiritual, moral, communal, social, political, economic, philosophical, historical, traditional, cultural, national, environmental, legal or lifecycle-related.

5. Benefits -- personally meaningful rewards we expect to acquire by using brands. The following benefits stand out in associating a brand with a consumer's personal identity: beauty, intellect, sexual attractiveness, fashion, knowledgeable, success, pride, exclusive and elite, access to power and resources, genetic and racial pride and uniqueness of personality.

6. Metaphors -- reveal larger than life expectations that come to be consciously or subconsciously associated with a brand and its meaning to a consumer. The metaphor is useless unless it is tangibly and consistently reinforced (e.g., Volvo = safety).

7. Extensions -- natural extensions make sense in the consumer's mind. The most successful extensions use one of the following strategies: functionality addition (e.g., 3M sticky notes); functionality merge (e.g., shampoo and conditioner); occasion merge (e.g., turkey beyond holidays); interaction and interface merge (e.g., Baskin Robbins and Oreos); technology merge (e.g., Intel inside); and, device merge (e.g., iPhone).

Established brands should drive home the core feelings consumers have about your brand.

New brands need to focus on unique benefits and function that will differentiate the brand.

Commodity brands need to focus on form, function and benefits to engage the brain on a practical level.

Luxury brands need to generate an emotional response to compensate for the premium pricing.

How does your brand stack up on these seven dimensions?

Have you asked your customers?

Need More Insights From Your Analytics? Download the Free e-book "How To Get Insights From Analytics" to Accelerate Sales

Tags: dialogue, emotional connection to the brand, one-on-one interviews provide consumer insights, customer satisfaction measurement and improvement, core values

Authenticity and Your Brand

Posted by Tom Smith on Tue, Oct, 22, 2013 @ 06:10 AM

Life is a Special Occasion resized 600





Insightful interview by Elisabeth Sullivan of Marketing News with Lisa Macpherson, Hallmark's senior vice president of marketing.

Lisa believes the best emotional relationships are based on empathy and authenticity.

Empathy is a function of having an intimate understanding of your customers and their needs.

I know from experience that you're only able to get this level of understanding by having one-on-one conversations, in which you are really listening to what the customer has to say and the customer knows that you are fully engaged in the conversation and find what they have to say is of the utmost importance.

I recently met a Hallmark "emotionaire" at a millennial marketing conference.  This person was a former copywriter attending the conference to gather insights on millennials and how to make an emotional connection with them.

Hallmark uses emotionaires to understand the needs of a customer, what Hallmark calls a "relationship believers" -- someone who genuinely believes that happiness and emotional well-being come from the quality of our relationships with others.

Hallmark's current campaign is "Life Is a Special Occasion."

Simply translated it's saying, "Don't wait.  Stop the blur of life.  Recognize and linger in those imperfect moments you share with others.  They can happen any day."  The campaign is result of insights gathered from "relationship believers."

Macpherson believes authenticity comes from being very clear about your brand: what it stands for, what it promises and what it means to your customers.

I know from experience, and research, that authenticity is either reinforced or lost based on how consistent you are with regards to delivering on brand promises and customer expectations.

What are you doing to gather meaningful insights from customers?

How consistent are you in delivering on brand promises and meeting or surpassing customer expectations?

How authentic is your brand?

Need More Insights From Your Analytics? Download the Free e-book "How To Get Insights From Analytics" to Accelerate Sales

Tags: transparency, trust, authenticity, connecting emotionally with customers, core values

12 Steps to an Integrated Marketing Communications Plan

Posted by Tom Smith on Mon, Sep, 23, 2013 @ 06:09 AM

Consumer insights on the brand platform

The Brand Platform: The Foundation of a Cohesive Integrated Marketing Communications Plan

  1. Why a Brand Platform?
  • A brand platform will align the company’s goals and aspirations with its resources and capabilities
  • A brand platform sends a message to everyone in the company
  • It should be: 1) short enough to remember; 2) simple enough to understand; and 3) powerful enough to inspire -- employees and prospects
  1. The Brand Platform
  • The merger of the company and its products as a single entity
  • The defining elements of our brand’s existence, guiding how we deliver value at all points of human contact
  • The brand platform must capture the essence of a company clearly in touch with its: 1) customers; 2) business environment; 3) equities and competencies; and, 4) potential
  1. The Brand Platform Structure
  • Why Do We Need a “Vision”?
  • Most companies operate in a highly dynamic market
  • A fundamental principle of dynamic optimization is to specify the desired end-state at some future time, and work back to see how to get there
  • The “Vision” is the desired end-state the company would like to achieve in the future
  1. Everybody on the Same Page
  • The corporate brand and the product offerings should be the same
  • The company should emerge publicly as an organization with its culture, values and products in absolute alignment: 1) one brand; 2) one value set; 3) one promise; 4) one face; and, 5) one voice
  1. The Construct
  • A vision is a description of something in the future, in terms of the essence of what it should become
  • It articulates a realistic, credible, and attractive aspiration for the brand
  • It is a condition that is better than the condition that now exists
  • Coca-Cola:  “To put a Coke within arm’s reach of everyone on the planet.”
  • NASA:  “Be first to put a man on the moon.”
  • Henry Ford: “To build a car his own workers could afford to buy.”
  • Sense of the possible (not the probable)
  • Aspirational, but attainable
  • Visualization of the destination
  • Unique
  • It’s not a theme line
  1. Why a Mission?
  • A mission is a statement that defines the purpose of the organization
  • It defines that purpose in terms of something outside the company, beyond profits or market position
  • If executed, pursuit of the mission will lead to realization of the vision
  • Henry Ford: “To pass on to the motorist who buys our products, every efficiency possible, in the production of automobiles, from modern methods of procurement, manufacture, and assembly.”
  1. Key Considerations Defining the Mission
  • History and culture of the institution or organization
  • Current preferences of the management and owners
  • Resources of the institution
  • Distinctive competencies
  • Business environment and competition
  1. Core Values:  A Definition
  • The unwavering principles that guide how we conduct business, make and sell products, and especially how we steward ongoing relationships with customers and prospects
  • McDonald’s:
    1. Quality
    2. Value
    3. Service
    4. Cleanliness
  1. Types of Core Values
  • Acquired vs. current:
  • What are we that we need to keep?
  • What are we not, that we would like to be?
  • Functional vs. emotional


  1. Possible Core Values

Accessible                          Aggressive                   Caring

Confident                           Conservative                Creative

Customer focused              Different                      Entrepreneurial

Fair                                   Family oriented                       Fast

Friendly                             Honest                         Independent

Innovative                          Leader                         Mature

Passionate                         Professional                 Responsible

Stable                                Swift                             Trusted

  1. Strategic Imperatives
  • Once the fundamental platform strategies are in place, the question becomes what operating strategies we must follow to manage the company against the strategy
  • Examples:
    1. Product must be easy to use, intuitive and require little to no customer support
    2. Sales efforts must embrace solution selling versus focusing on individual tools or initiatives
    3. Product must be improved to be acknowledged as world-class
    4. Invest in gaining competitive insight into prospective customers
    5. Cultural shift from a product provider to a broader view focused on enabling customers to achieve their goals
  1. Positioning:  A Definition
  • competitive tool with which a marketer: 1) Distinguishes a brand within a competitive frame of reference; 2) Registers its benefits and associations as a competitive point of difference; 3) Appeals to the wants and needs of a worthwhile target market; 4) The long-term positive differentiation of the brand from it competitors that is meaningful to consumers
  • Pepsi-Cola:  Pepsi is the cola that is most in style today because it has the taste “with-it” people prefer.
  • Volvo Automobiles:  Volvo is the automobile that provides peace-of-mind to drivers concerned about the safety of themselves and their passengers.

What other elements do you use to create the foundation for an integrated marketing communications plan?

Click Here to Download Your Lead Generation eBook

Tags: alignment, vision, values, strategic positioning, core values, brand platform

Identify, and Live, Core Values to Accelerate Sales

Posted by Tom Smith on Tue, Aug, 27, 2013 @ 06:08 AM

core values accelerate sales


The third element of the brand platform are core values.

Prior to the internet and growth of social media, I don't think companies gave their core values a lot of thought.

However, today you better walk your talk or risk getting called out on social media.

What are core values?  My definition is, the unwavering principles that guide how we conduct business, make and sell products, and especially, how we develop and maintain relationships with customers and prospects.

What do you need to consider when developing your core values?

  • What values do we have now?
  • What should we keep?
  • What are we not that we would like to be?
  • What are functional?
  • What are emotional?
McDonald's core values are: quality, value, service and cleanliness.  Pretty generic. It would be interesting to know how well their employees know, and agree, with these values.
Tony Hsieh built Zappos around 10 core values that employees live by and the company constantly reinforces internally and with customers:
  1. Deliver "WOW" through service.
  2. Embrace and drive change.
  3. Create fun and a little weirdness.
  4. Be adventurous, creative and open-minded.
  5. Pursue growth and meaning.
  6. Build open and honest relationships with communication.
  7. Build a positive team and family spirit.
  8. Do more with less.
  9. Be passionate and determined.
  10. Be humble.
A lot of companies have core values but don't "walk the talk." Their values sound more like what you'd find in the boilerplate of a press release or the "About Us" page of a website.
You might learn about them on day 1 or orientation but after that, it's just a meaningless plaque on the wall of the lobby.
Zappos believes in having core values employees can commit to. Zappos hires and fires employees based on their core values.
If you're willing to do that, you can build a company culture in line with the brand you want to build. You can empower your employees to be brand ambassadors inside and outside the office.
What other firms do you know, or work with, that are "walking the talk" with regards to their core values?
Tomorrow I'll cover strategic positioning.
Empower Employees to Get Insights Download the Free e-book "How To Get Insights From Analytics" to Accelerate Sales

Tags: accelerate sales performance, alignment, integrated marketing, core values, brand platform