What Really Matters to your Brand’s Success? Empathy.

what really matters to your brand's success

If I asked you what really matters to your brand’s success, you would probably only talk about things that can be explained rationally and measured empirically. Nothing wrong with that, after all that’s the way we think and talk as business people.

However, if I asked you what really matters to you as a human being, I bet you would find yourself talking about things that are hard to explain rationally and virtually impossible to measure. You know, messy things like the need for safety, the desire for connectedness, and the joys of love and beauty.

What really matters to your brand’s success?

This contrast actually points out what really, really matters to your brand’s future success. Your prospects, customers and employees, hungry for meaning in their lives in this time of economic and social uncertainty, are reawakening to their core human needs, desires and joys. Successful brands going forward will develop an ability to connect their offerings and ways of being to these “messy” human domains.

Once a brand creates a meaningful dimension for itself, based on empathy, things start to change for the better. That’s because when people care about a brand, they are more likely to do what benefits that brand. Once a strong emotional bond is created around a rational proposition, people positively change the way they think, feel and act on behalf of brands.

Empathy is the path to a more meaningful future state for your brand.

Empathy is the practice of stepping out of the box that your industry and business works to keep you focused on 24/7. When you are empathetic, you start to see your business and brand through the eyes of the people you serve and employ. You suddenly see what really matters about your brand by seeing what your business does, and how it does it, in light of human needs, desires and joys. By then redefining the way your brand reaches out to people, you start to forge more meaningful connection with the people vital to your brand’s success. And when you treat them this way, they gladly pay you back.

Empathy isn’t easy. It forces you to let go of long-held beliefs, familiar language, and well-entrenched ways of behaving. But at the same time, it opens up new paths for brands that face an uncertain future of competition and commoditization. It give brands a new and powerful way to create appeal, differentiate and sell. It builds stronger bonds with customers, giving them more compelling stories to tell others. It helps employees feel they matter and that the work they do matters.

As babies, we were all naturally sensitive and empathetic to others. As our rational minds took over, and our emotional defenses grew – all within a culture that emphasized “me” over “we” – most of us have lost touch with our innate empathetic power.  Outsiders can help inward-focused executives reinvigorate this helpful human trait by promoting the ideas of mindfulness and advocating for the humanity of customers and employees.

Empathy is within you. Let it rise to the surface and help you manage your brand to a brighter future.

Emotive Brand is a brand strategy firm.

Comments (3)

  1. As Ogilvy would put it, making sure our customers perceive our products or services as ‘positively good.’ I often find it hard to step back and view my brand directly from the customer’s perspective, but I find that I can step back and evaluate a brand I feel shows empathy toward me, and then approach my brand from that perspective.

  2. When, as a creative person, you’re thinking about the brand you work for and how hard the sell has become, you should realize that much of the power of that brand rests in your hearts and minds. Clients can’t develop their own advertising anymore than an agency can create it’s own advertising. It’s time that creative people, people who have been bought for obscene salaries, grow some and start laying down the law. Yeah, sure, the client can move his business elsewhere, but if he gets the same treatment at the agency down the road, maybe it will stick in his pea brain, that good creative people know the difference between lies of omission that almost every ad is an exercise in and outright fabrication that is more rampant today than ever before.
    What if I refused to write the next ad that made me sacrifice my moral compass, that compromised my ethics but promised a more than generous payback for doing so? If every creative person did the same thing.
    But I need to be clear, I will not pronounce on anybody’s product or service just because I don’t happen to believe in alcohol. That’s my problem and, as a professional, I will do my best to divorce my personal feelings from the rights of a company to produce, market and sell certain products and services. But I don’t have to seed the script for the next beer commercial I write so that youngsters below the drinking age, based on the ad they’ve just seen, the one that tells them they’ll gain full acceptance from their peers and score with super models, I don’t have to tell that fairy tale again. Like I said, I think its time that creative people stood up and said, “you tell me why your beer is better or more desirable than the other big beer company’s, and I’ll happily write that for you.” But if you want me to cue the sixteen year olds who aren’t yet of legal drinking age and have no idea about the horrors of alcoholism, then FU. There are products that every weekend during the summer up here in Toronto, that prove that alcohol and young people and cars just don’t mix. As if that were a revelation.
    No, it’s time that, as creative people we stand up for what we know to be true. There is no need for a youngster, just out OCAD, to be engaged in devising beer ads that so distort reality for that pre entry level age group that it will increase the risk for premature death by automobile accident or, quite simply alcohol poisoning. If you and I refuse to to those kind of ads, things will change rather quickly but there has to be consensus or one agency is going to make out like bandits, picking up the beer brands that other agencies dropped because they couldn’t find a creative person who would write the kind of beer ad they wanted to see.
    It takes courage and maybe it takes a leader among creative people, someone who has been around long enough to explain the danger in the style of beer advertising we’ve been doing. We would then collectively define the parameters within which we’ll work.
    I don’t expect a lot of support on this one, but simply getting a dialogue going on this subject could be very enlightening.

  3. I hear your pain. Ethics is one of the most challenging aspects for conscious people working in the marketing/advertising world. Sadly, our business culture always demands “more and more” whatever the cost, so even an “innocent” product can be used in manipulative and destructive ways by over-eager marketers. It’s a personal choice we have to make, but it’s not an easy or clear one. Follow your heart.

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