Brand Strategy: Why are purpose and feelings so important now?
An emotive brand is the persona-driven presence and experience of an organization that has proactively decided to orient itself around a meaningful and purposeful promise. Such brands do so with the intent of emotionally connecting to people on a deep level, by addressing core human needs. Most significant, an emotive brand strives to forge these attitude and behavior changing connections both inside and outside their organizations.
To summarize, an emotive brand is:
– Proactively meaningful across all its actions
– Driven by a purpose beyond profit that is embodied in a brand promise that reflects the positive personal, social, and environmental outcomes of the brand’s products and activities
– Successful because the organization behind it takes a holistic and organic approach to change that addresses both the internal and external aspects of the organization
Why is this especially important now?
Very few brand owners can afford the luxury of simply leaving things the way they are. Turbulence abounds. Competition is relentless. Commoditization is rampant. Disruption is commonplace. Add to this the fast-changing attitudes, preferences, and behaviors of both customers and employees.
Brands simply cannot stand still. They need to take a proactive stance, create a solid, yet adaptable reason for being, and think of their brand strategy not in terms of whipping up icing for their cake, but rather as initiating the chemical reaction that turns raw materials into a new and exceptionally desirable cake.
They can do this by adopting the principals and practices of emotive branding. Working out from a purposeful promise, emotive brands fundamentally change the way people within and outside the organization think, feel, and act. This is because an emotive brand’s promise is coupled with a plan to transform the attitudes and behaviors that drive both the organization as a whole, and all the people within the organization. Throughout this transformation process, emotive brands evoke a distinct emotional aura that forges more heartfelt and enduring connections.
How is an emotive brand different from a meaningful brand?
As we see it, the key difference between an emotive brand and a meaningful brand is perspective. One can conclude a brand is meaningful based on a review of the various, yet often disperate, brand activities. Emotive brands, however, are those striving to bring meaning and purpose into every brand activity and workplace interaction. So, it’s not a coincidental outcome based on pockets of meaningful activities from a brand as much as a comprehensive strategic decision to matter more as a brand.
Why are purpose and feelings so important now?
After all, one could argue that it’s always been important to matter to others. The question is, at what level does a brand need to take it to matter now: at a superficial and vulnerable level, or at a deep and heartfelt level?
The past is full of brands that mattered by being, “better, faster, or cheaper” than their competitors. But most brands today find it hard to identify a clear and compelling competitive advantage. This leaves them resorting to bland, highly contrived, and readily mimicked points of differentiation, that easily get lost in the noise.
Brands that matter today take a different tact. They don’t work from the inside out, but rather work from the outside in. They use empathy to see their brand’s value through the eyes of the people they impact. They then develop a way of behaving that taps directly into deeply felt core human needs. Exposure to, and experience with, such brands positively changes the way people think, feel, and act.
This is because people are hungry for more meaning in their lives. Why? Among other things, people have been alienated by our aggressive consumer culture, feel stunned by the economic meltdown, and are increasingly aware of our social challenges. At the same time, they have started absorbing more and more different kinds of information that are making them feel ever-more distant from the institutions, including brands, that surround them.
Brands that exude purpose and which evoke positive emotions stand apart because they directly and intentionally address the needs that result.
Why brands B2B and B2C brands should take note
The issues that are prompting people to seek meaning aren’t exclusive to consumers. Every employee and business decision maker arrives at their desk each morning carrying the same concerns and deep-rooted needs. These needs operate below the surface and don’t enter into everyday conversation, or find their way into research studies. But they are there in the background, informing every decision and action, and shaping every mood and motivation.
So purpose, meaning, and feelings are equally important regardless of the market thrust of your brand, or the apparent lack of meaning inherent in an offering. Indeed, we believe even the most basic and dry offering can be elevated by seeing it through the lens of meaning.
What kind of leader is advocating this approach?
The leaders that are championing this shift toward meaning are united by a single trait: mindfulness. Regardless of their relative level of “charisma”, these leaders recognize the value of defining a “North Star” ambition for their brands and leading their organizations to it by listening to, appreciating, and directly addressing the core human needs of the people vital to the brand’s success.
These are leaders who want to be more than mere figureheads. They employ the personal power that comes from being purposeful and empathetic, rather than the dictatorial power that comes from their position at the top of the org chart. They bring people along by building belief, establishing trust, and making the needed changes both personally relevant and emotionally gratifying to every person involved.
By being human-centric themselves, these leaders create the human-centric brands that outperform their increasingly outdated and irrelevant competitors.
If you would like more information on Emotive Brand’s brand strategy methodology, donwload paper below.
IMG credit: Front End of Innovation Blog: October 2011
To learn more about the tenants of emotive branding download our paper below.
Emotive Brand is a brand strategy firm.