Learn the importance of leveraging feelings and emotion in building your brand so you can effectively connect with your right audience.
“How do you want people to feel when they come in contact with your brand?”
I remember asking that question early on in my branding career and feeling so nervous. Would my client think it was a stupid question? Would they scoff and want to move onto the next one? Would they even take the time to answer something so touchy-feely?
Talking about ‘feelings’ in the traditionally masculine setting of business seemed out of place and laughable.
But the longer we do this work of supporting clients, the more convinced I am of the importance feelings play in the brand building process.
And now, I’m happy and proud to say that ‘feelings talk’ plays a significant role in our Brand Authority Method.
IN THIS ARTICLE
>> The purpose of brand and branding
>> Why feeling must be a part of your brand
>> Using psychology in branding
>> How to determine your brand’s aligned feelings
>> Marketing application: customer journey and feeling
The purpose of brand and branding
Your brand is how people think, feel and act (the perception) in regards to your business.
Your branding is made up of the elements that influence how people think, feel and act. Think logo, website, fonts, colors, collateral, etc.
So why does brand matter in the first place?
As a business owner, the purpose of identifying and executing a brand is so that your business’s stakeholders (team, audience, clients, community, etc.) have something to connect with.
Whether you’re a nonprofit or a for-profit business, you need people to invest in your work. And years of research has shown that people invest in what they know, what they like and what they trust.
Your brand and branding is the vehicle for establishing, maintaining and influencing that know, like and trust factor – aka, for connecting with the right people.
With the end-goal of having an established brand that consistently reiterates the existing perceptions and opinions by those key stakeholders.
Why feeling must be a part of your brand
Think about your favorite brands – why are they important to you? I’d argue it’s because they make you feel a certain way. Whether it’s because they’re long lasting and make you feel taken care of or because they give you a certain image, it all comes back to feeling and connection.
Yes, there are commodity brands that probably don’t make us feel too much.
But for today’s purposes, think more about the brands that do evoke a feeling. Whether it’s negative or positive, feelings toward a brand generally lead to some action or inaction. It could be to write a bad review, make a purchase, subscribe to whatever is being offered or share thoughts with a friend; each next step originates from a feeling.
And that’s why feelings – indifference, excitement, love, anger – are so important to your brand.
Because as long as your brand interacts with humans, feelings are going to play an integral part in your business journey and they cannot be ignored.
Using psychology in branding
So now that you’re fully on board with the importance of feelings in branding, the next obvious question is: okay, but how do I get my stakeholders to feel a certain way?
Good news. There is no shortage of tools available and research done on how to evoke certain feelings (which then lead to action) based on psychology, buyer behavior and decision making.
Here at WCO, we utilize two tools when crafting a client’s brand feeling persona (we encompass this under their brand personality) – seasonal brand theory and brand archetypes. They both serve as the foundation for connecting the brand to its right audience and evoking certain emotions based on drivers, fears and visual aesthetics.
Seasonal brand theory is the idea that every brand identifies with a particular season and that season has unique characteristics. From the words on a website to the photography styling to the color palette, each season has a set of guidelines that embody and evoke emotions based on color psychology and seasonal theory.
Brand archetypes are a collection of familiar characterizations of a brand’s personality based on desires, fears, behaviors, patterns and images.
Together, these two tools use principles from psychology to help evoke certain feelings and emotions when communicating the brand – whether it’s through a visual graphic or an email newsletter.
How to determine your brand’s aligned feelings
Brand personality development is pillar four in our Brand Authority Method – the process that we take our clients through to build consistent and cohesive brands that connect. Here’s an overview of what it looks like behind-the-scenes when developing a brand feeling persona.
Have clarity on your ideal client
In order to create an aligned brand and evoke your right feelings, you need to know who you’re communicating with. The target audience will play a big role in defining and creating the aligned feelings and emotions of your brand’s personality.
Research your competitors
Your brand’s personality is a great differentiator. But in order to separate yourself from the crowd, you first need to know and understand the crowd that you’re hanging around in. So, research your competitors and see what feelings and emotions they’re aligning with – you may come to the realization that you can choose a different path than the norm and use that as a key differentiation strategy.
Align on your core brand archetype
As mentioned above, your brand archetype is based on drivers and fears. It’s helpful to first determine what archetype your target audience aligns with and then get clear on the role that your brand is playing for the audience, based on where they’re at in their life. Then you can select the most aligned archetype for your brand.
Select your primary brand season
Also mentioned above, your brand’s season is based on desired attributes and characteristics. So, once you have your ideal client and archetype, you can use them to identify your primary brand season. The execution of your season will be very prominent in the visual aesthetic of your brand.
Summarize your brand’s experience based on feeling and emotion
Bring it all together and create a summary statement to guide your brand’s experience. We use the framework, “When someone experiences the [business name] brand, they feel X, Y, Z.”
Can’t you just jump to number five, pick a few arbitrary emotions and feelings, write a summary statement, share them with your team and move on?
Of course you can.
But if your goal is effective and intentional brand building, well, your stakeholders will smell the bullshit. Authenticity isn’t just a buzzword – it’s a guidepost for true connection and brand building.
This process works because it’s rooted in psychology and behavior – the personality traits aren’t cherry picked but rather, intentionally characterized to be believable. And if you select random words and evoke feelings within your audience that are unbalanced or undefined, it leads to ambiguity and distrust. Which are probably not emotions that you want to be associated with as a business or brand.
Marketing application: customer journey and feeling
Every single brand touchpoint will evoke a feeling.
Yup, let that one sink in.
While it may seem a little overwhelming at first, it doesn’t have to be. In fact, when you know your desired brand experience and the feelings that it is aiming to evoke, you can inject your brand personality into every stage of the customer journey to really connect with your audience.
At WCO, we define the customer journey as having four main phases:
- Attract an ideal customer.
- Buy into the message.
- Make a purchase.
- Retain their business.
Now from the lens of your brand’s personality, think about how you want someone to feel as they move through the phases.
For example, maybe you want to evoke feelings of anticipation in the awareness phase, empowerment at the buy-in and purchase phase, and motivation in retention. There’s no right or wrong here but again, it comes back to intentionally crafting an experience through feeling.
You can map out an intricate system or simply ask yourself, “How do I want someone to feel at this phase?” and intentionally craft your content in alignment with what you’re after.
The idea is that you can lean into certain feelings throughout someone’s experience with your brand.
And with that, happy branding!
All my best,
Need additional branding resources?
Discover your brand season and archetype with in this blog post.
Develop an engaging and effective brand personality you can use to resonate with the right audience.
Map your customer journey with our 5 easy steps.
Check out these easy-to-follow tips for picking the right brand color palette that resonates with your community and brand’s personality!
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