Last month I talked about Why is emotional appeal central to brand building? This month I delve deeper into how businesses connect with their audience at the emotional level.
Fitness First has had a successful update to their brand and as part of the £225m global rebranding are now creating a new online portal to appeal and engage more with their members.
According to the drum article “The Fitness First experience will ultimately provide a holistic service, tailored to each member, which connects their fitness regime with their wider lifestyle.”
I’d say this is money well-spent for their brand building, because:
It shows that they’re in tune with their members’ needs and requirements.
The new website will move away from being a digital platform that only broadcast information to a useful tool that the members can incorporate into their lifestyles.
This tool is likely to change the perception of the brand from a ‘gym chain’ to a brand that supports its members to achieve their fitness goals in and outside the gym.
If successful, the potential for Fitness First to become a trusted brand and leader in the health and fitness sector is high. And when we talk about trust – we’re talking about emotions and loyalty.
So what can small businesses do to connect with their audience at the emotional level?
1. Know your customer
“A marketing strategy that isn’t based on your target consumer is doomed!” This is practically what I’ve been told from day one in my marketing masters. The profile of Fitness First members dictated their marketing strategy: looking to the future, they predict that members will use mobile devices more to access individualised information and advice on their fitness progress anytime anywhere.
2. Show them you understand their problems and offer them what they need
Design your services, products and marketing strategy around their needs. Offer added benefits, special services, personal touch-points that fit in with their lifestyle. The new Fitness First website becomes the additional tool for the customer who aims to lead a healthy lifestyle outside of the gym.
3. Involve them in the creation and process of your services and products
This goes beyond interacting with customers on social media platforms. For Fitness First members it could be designing their own online fitness programme with specific features.
Their involvement with your brand will generate a high level of engagement which in return will create opportunities for the customer learning. And learning is more effective when we get involved and have fun!
4. Get personal
Even large companies such as Coca Cola are trying to personalise their products by giving their Coke cans peoples names. Boots the chemist, a drugstore here in the UK, address the customer by their first name in all of their direct mailing campaigns. It may feel creepy to some individuals but a customer database that also includes interests and problems of your customers are helpful when personalising communications.
5. Get your brand identity right and be consistent with it
In another article I talked about the 3Ps of Branding: Promise, Positioning and Performance. Brand identity encapsulates all these three elements and gives the brand a face with which the customer can identify.
Brand identity appeals to the senses. Angela Ahrendts, the former CEO of Burberry who rebuilt the brand, in an interview in the Harvard Business Review said that “From Apple to Starbucks, I love the consistency – knowing that anywhere in the world you can depend on having the same experience in the store or being served a latte with the same taste and in the same cup. That’s great branding.”
Consistency in the way that your brand identity is used at every communication opportunity will increase credibility and trust.
6. Develop a two-way marketing communications strategy
Marketing is no longer a one-way communication whereby we broadcast how great we’re and how wonderful our product or service is. It’s a conversation with your customer. A responsive customer service, annual customer surveys, social media interactions are only a few examples for ways to facilitate that conversation.
Depending on your industry and your brand values you can focus on evoking certain emotions with your marketing communication materials. For example, a positive emotion, such as humour could be paired with your product or service in your advertising campaign to create a desirable association between the positive feeling and your product or service.
7. Start telling stories
Nobody likes a hard sell. We like stories, because they are a way of simplifying complex information. The symbolism and metaphors in a story enable the consumer to join the dots and foster involvement. We can contextualise, memorise and learn through stories.
Stories could be about how you started your career or company. Or the problems your customers were experiencing before they met you. Your customers can also tell their own stories about how you helped made their life easier.
In a nutshell
The power in the market place has shifted from companies to the customer. To adapt and stand out in an ever crowded market place, we must tap into emotions, as well as logic.
As a small business with limited resources it takes time to develop, implement and manage a marketing and communications strategy that ‘pulls’ the customer and engages them through emotional appeal. These steps will give you a good starting point when thinking about your strategy.
As always, do get in touch and ask away any questions.
More useful articles:
My Flipboard magazine, Marketing and Branding