Brands Must Be Built On Emotional Benefits

Sharon LivingstonNovember 4, 20114802 min

Brands Must Be Built On Emotional Benefits

Emotional and psychodynamic factors are long known to drive brand selection and loyalty. Even in today’s price-sensitive economy, the imagery attached to brands goes far beyond product attributes, functional benefits and price.

All products and brands develop personas in consumers’ minds. All project varying user images, which differ by audience. Members of one audience may buy a product because it makes them feel affluent. Members of another, which values thrift, buy a brand because it makes them feel like smart shoppers.

More generally, consumers buy products with imagery that is either consistent with their positive view of themselves (“I’m sophisticated and therefore buy this type of wine to complete my image”) or which conveys a plausible aspirational model – something they would like to be and believe they could conceivably achieve (“I can be a real ladies’ man if I drive a sports car.”)

In fact, we have discovered that the essential component of Brand Character goes far beyond advertising slogans and packaging. The most powerful influencing factor in purchasing habits is the subtle, often-overlooked product/consumer relationship. A vital brand has a “relationship” with loyal users not unlike a healthy relationship between two people.

People maintain ongoing affiliations as long as each person in a relationship feels as though the other contributes positively to his/her sense of self. Relationships fall apart when perceived negatives begin to outweigh the rewards of the association. For example, being coupled with a successful friend casts a positive halo onto someone who values success.

If you want to build a strong Brand Equity relationship, (indeed — to develop a truly effective advertising platform of any kind) you must first understand the core values of your target market. In marketing, we often talk about the assessment of these core values as “laddering up to emotional end benefits.” These are the unspoken consumer values that are the glue to brand loyalty because they validate the user’s self perceptions.

Contributed to Branding Strategy Insider by: Dr. Sharon Livingston, President, The Livingston Group

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