Branding is an abstract concept, but its impact is undeniable. In fact, consumers are willing to pay 200% more for brands they feel connected to. Learn about branding so that you can boost revenue and skyrocket your brand to success!
What is a Brand?
When you think of a brand, what comes to mind? You might be envisioning a logo, such as the one emblazoned on your Starbucks cup. While a brand’s logo is what people typically remember most about a brand, there is much more to branding than just a logo.
The reason why the idea of a brand is difficult to understand is because it is intangible. A logo, on the other hand, is tangible. You can see a brand's logo, yet a brand itself "exists only in someone's mind," according to Forbes.
A brand is everything that people think when they see the brand's logo. There are two components to a brand: both the actual product or service it offers, such as Starbucks’ coffee, as well as the thoughts and feelings associated with it, for example, the bliss of sipping your favorite caffeinated beverage.
In semiotics, the study of how meaning is created, signs communicate messages. Imagine a “Stop” sign. In this example, the signifier is the sign itself. The signified, or meaning conveyed, is to stop your car. When we apply this to brands, you can think of a logo as the signifier, which represents the ideas attached to the brand, or the signified.
As reported in Entrepreneur, a logo is the foundation of a brand. While your logo is essential, it is not the only element to consider. The ideas and emotions signified by your logo are what are what truly define your brand. Regardless of your logo, your brand can thrive as long as it inspires positive thoughts and a strong connection with your audience.
The Starbucks Story
To illustrate the concept of how a company can charge far higher than its competitors, yet prevail due to powerful branding, let's study the example of Starbucks.
Starbucks is one of the most beloved brands in the world. What makes Starbucks so successful? It’s not the unique name and logo alone that earned Starbucks its place in the hearts of so many fans.
What sets Starbucks apart is the experience it provides its customers. Visiting a Starbucks store is a sensory experience that engages all 5 senses: sight, smell, hearing, touch, and, of course, taste. First, you see the store’s contemporary, yet warm and cozy design. As you enter, the scent of roasting coffee beans wafts into your nose. After placing your order, you hear the barista call out your name. You pick up your piping hot Grande Carmel Macchiato and take a sip. Mmm… it's delicious, as always.
If you’re a Starbucks fan, you may adore your classic drink order, but your love for Starbucks likely extends far beyond that. Starbucks is more than a coffee shop, it is a place where you can go to feel at home. Whether you go to Starbucks in Des Moines, Iowa, or Barcelona, Spain, your experience will be nearly identical, providing a sense of familiarity no matter where in the world you may be. By offering the opportunity to relax in comfort, Starbucks has won legions of fans across the globe.
By consistently delivering a luxurious, sensuous experience, Starbucks establishes a powerful relationship with its customers. Starbucks’ brand is successful because of meaning people attach to the brand. For many, the Starbucks logo represents refreshment and rejuvenation in a relaxing atmosphere. Since Starbucks forges strong emotional ties with its patrons, it earns their loyalty and love for life.
I use the Starbucks story to simply illustrate the fundamental impact of brand loyalty and overall significance of customer experience. Although small service businesses differ greatly from something as corporate and global as Starbucks, the lessons are still the same; Service professionals must strive to create elevated emotional brand loyalty through their business offerings. How can you do that? Read on.
How to Create an Emotional Brand
While you may not be running a coffee shop, the lessons learned from the story of the Starbucks brand can be applied to any business. In fact, if you effectively establish an emotional connection with your target market, you can charge 200% more than your competitors for the same service, according to research.
That’s right, customers are willing to splurge for brands they have forged strong emotional ties with, so the premium price tag is less meaningful than their relationship with the brand. Further, emotional branding increases sales volumes and customer loyalty, both boosting the bottom line. Now that you know how powerful emotional branding can be for your bottom line, how do you tap into it?
Follow these steps to establish a brand that your customers can connect to emotionally:
1. Identify an emotion to tie to your brand.
How does your brand make people feel? For example, if you own a cleaning business, you could choose satisfaction or security. Communicate in your brand messaging that you aim to instill complete satisfaction and reliable security within your customers through your services. Be careful to choose emotions that are already likely to be evoked by experiencing your brand.
2. Imagine an ideal experience with your brand.
Starbucks’ former VP of Brand Planning, Jerome Conlon, explains to Branding Strategy Insider about how “dream catching” helped cultivate the Starbucks brand experience. In this experiment, Starbucks asked participants to imagine drinking the absolute best cup of coffee. Starbucks learned that their customers’ ideal coffee experiences were similar, so they set forth to provide that perfect experience in their stores.
For your business, you can ask your friends and family to help. Ask them to dream about the ideal experience in your service industry. Find out details about what would make their experience with your brand deliver positive emotions. Envision how you can provide an optimal experience and aim to cultivate that ideal.
3. Invoke the emotion in all experiences of your brand.
Establish a voice for your brand that consistently conveys that emotion. Tie it into everything your brand is, does, and says. Your customers will start to associate your brand with the emotion if you do this successfully.
Most importantly, consistently provide your customers with an experience that evokes the emotion. For instance, if you tie the feeling of satisfaction to your cleaning company, ensure that your customers experience your brand in a way that offers money back for anything less than complete satisfaction.
4. Integrate all of your branding with the emotion.
If your brand already has a name and a logo, ensure that they are aligned with the emotion you have chosen. If they aren't, you may want to consider changing them, or at least finding a new emotion to channel that fits in with your existing branding. Make sure your brand’s color scheme is reminiscent of the emotion. For example, if your emotions are blissful and peaceful, blue and green are colors that convey a sense of serenity and earthiness.
5. Inspire your entire company to cultivate the emotion.
Once you have a vision of your emotional branding, know that it alone is not enough. As demonstrated by the Starbucks story, a brand’s vision must “be expressed through behavior, through each and every Starbucks employee at each location. Hence, we had to share the vision with everyone inside the organization.”
Teach your employees how to provide the best possible experience to all of your customers. Show them how they can nurture emotional ties with your customers so that they truly feel the emotion when they experience your brand. Enrich the working conditions of your employees so that they authentically convey positive emotions in interactions with your customers. To be powerful, a brand must be consistent and authentic.
By following this advice, you will be on your way to building a captivating brand. Just like Starbucks can charge sky-high prices for its coffee, you too can increase your prices up to 200% more than competitors by tapping into the power of emotional branding! Connect with your customers emotionally so that they would never consider an alternative in your industry. Create an emotional branding strategy so that you can catapult your brand to prosperity!
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