Emotional branding in the digital era

It’s cold and I’ve organised a game of golf this weekend so naturally, I bought a pair of thermal golf gloves from Amazon. So easy to do! As we all know, the service is efficient and frictionless.

But when my gloves arrived they were wrapped in plastic, brown paper and two cardboard boxes. Every time I receive a delivery from them, I feel bad about the conscious choice I made. I love what Amazon does, but I don’t love how it does it or have a meaningful, emotional brand connection.

So this week we are looking at ways brands that live in digital worlds – and for much of the last year that has been all brands – can build positive long-lasting emotional connections.

Customer loyalty is built on how you do it, not what you do

Creating a business in today’s digital world is relatively cheap and easy. Product and service businesses can be built in a day, selling through Amazon, eBay or Instagram. Good customer reviews can give instant credibility to a fledgling business. Reaching a target audience is not as challenging as it used to be. But building a winning brand is a different story.

Big data provides an unprecedented opportunity to understand customers and their behaviours. But having customers feel close to you is much more difficult. The closer you get through analytics and algorithms, the greater the potential to drift farther apart emotionally.

And while the world of digital experiences demands relentless innovation in order to maintain customer loyalty, a brand with no emotional connection is one innovation misstep away from losing customers.

In a digital world driven by innovation and customer and user experience, it remains true that we as humans ‘love’ brands for how they relate to us and give us meaning. Brands connect with us on an emotional level by understanding our personal, societal or environmental struggles, helping us find ways to identify, belong, find purpose, progress, achieve and have fun.

So, just how do brands reconcile their needs to innovate and to connect?

1/ Show empathy

Put yourself in your customer’s shoes and truly identify with their situation, personalise solutions and communications. Use Incite’s Empathy Map as starting point – you can find the template here.

2/ Be purposeful

Make clear what you stand for and your role in society, ensure that everything you do results in relevant customer experiences that contribute meaningfully to your brand. Kate Jones recently wrote about the challenges and opportunities of this approach – read more here.

3/ Adopt a systematic approach to building brand equity

Be physically and mentally available, build trust and credibility, offer distinctive benefits and be distinctive, become loved, lead. Incite’s Brand Equity Model shows you how – you can find an overview here.

4/ Design human-centric consumer journeys

Offer consumers the tools they want and guidance they need throughout their natural pathways. Read more about using journey mapping as route to better serving customer needs here.