Using Emotional Drivers to Your Ownable Competitive Advantage

Emotional marketing is a term that encompasses understanding your customer’s feelings and relating to them. Be it a product or an experience, the choice to buy is driven by both the rational and the emotional mind. In fact, the same is true for any decision, including one as seemingly simple as whether to make yourself a cup of tea or coffee.

While most business leaders understand the role of the rational mind, few have a clear understanding of how emotions influence their customers. Price, convenience, safety, ease of use – there are hundreds of rational attributes that brands hang their hats on. But what about their customers’ feelings?

As the following example proves, the times, they are a-changing.

“Twenty years ago, who would ever have believed that people would line up outside a store to buy a coffee for at least double the price of the norm? Who would believe that people would camp overnight in front of an electronics store in order to be one of the first to own a smartphone especially since, two months later, you could walk into that same store and make that same purchase at the same price (if not cheaper)? These are not rational rea­sons but emotional ones and the ability for organizations to identify the emotional attributes and purchase drivers associated with their brand(s) is a competitive advantage that can lead to long term growth and success.”

Source: The Emotional Science Behind Effective Branding – a Better Way to Grow Your Branded Business, September 2011. Download the whitepaper >

Of the 184 personality types and 96 human emotions your customers envelop, you need to identify one or two that you can build your brand or organization around to drive sustainable growth. Without the right tools, it’s an exercise not unlike looking for a needle in a haystack.

What if we told you that we could quantify the role of emotion in your customers’ decision-making process?

A few years back, market researchers used to focus almost exclusively on the rational mind. In recent years, however, psychological and neurological findings have highlighted the flaw in this approach, prompting new methodologies to surface – ones that focus on both rational and emotional drivers throughout the course of a customer’s journey stages, not just at the point of purchase.

Although they still represent a vast improvement on the ways of old, many of these newer approaches remain fairly superficial, often surveying a short list of drivers and usually category antes. Not ours, though. BrandMap™, our proprietary research tool, helps C-suite executives identify feelings about their brand at a very deep level and explore the subtle dimensions that their customers associate with their brand’s personality, needs, wishes, and values, as well as its more rational attributes and benefits.

Using a mathematical projection technique, BrandMap™ literally quantifies emotional drivers with 87% accuracy. As a result, brands don’t need to operate on gut instinct. Rather, they can effectively determine both the emotional and rational space they want to operate in and then develop measurable ideas, claims and tactics accordingly.

By the way, BrandMap™ isn’t just for B2C. Emotional marketing drives all sectors.

As we’ve come to learn at Level5 Strategy Group, it’s equally important for B2B brands to understand the emotional drivers behind their offering. 

“Customers can fall in love with a brand. So when a brand falls short of its promise, customers react in the same way that they do to any broken promise or failed romance: with disappointment, sadness, anger, resentment, self-doubt, and bewilderment. In other words, they react emotionally.”

Source: The Value of a Promise Consistently Kept™, What I’ve Learned About Managing Brands as Assets by David Kincaid.

Having researched enterprise software and services a number of times over the years, we’ve concluded that emotion (how you make customers feel and how you personify your organization) can often account for as much as 60% of the final purchase decision and the primary reason why you could end up losing an account. 

Your customers want to ‘feel’ successful, inspired, reassured, perhaps even brave – complimenting rational attributes like performance, value, and being liked by employees. Features (the rational draw) are well down the list of importance. This begs the question:

What emotions are driving your customer, and are they positive or negative?

If you read our recent article entitled Your Brand: One of Your Most Underutilized Growth Drivers, you may recall that we define a brand as “the value of a promise consistently kept.”

So, what is the promise you intend to keep and what positive emotions can you leverage? More importantly, what negative emotions are standing in your way? We’ve been able to quantify that negative emotions can be up to three times more powerful than positive emotions, so addressing any negative associations with your brand should be a priority.

On the flip side, are there any negative associations with your competitors’ brands? If so, exploit them. Turn their emotional downfalls into your emotional drivers.

You’ve identified your brand’s emotional drivers. Now what?
Take these five steps to create an ownable competitive advantage; one that enables you to motivate, maintain and attract more customers and ultimately realize the growth you seek.

  1. Quantify the most powerful emotional drivers of choice – of the category, your brand and competitors
  2. Position your brand against a core subset of those drivers
  3. Create and deliver a powerful and compelling brand promise
  4. Align your organization to operationalize that promise 
  5. Measure and track progress against those drivers in your balanced scorecard

If you’re interested in harnessing the power of emotional science to guide your organizations growth strategy, to fulfil your brand promise and to drive greater business results, get in touch. We’d be happy to walk you through some of the tangible benefits of Level5 BrandMap™ and show you how you could leverage insights from this tool to enhance your competitive advantage and make the future brighter than you imagined.


By: Matt Kelly, Managing Partner

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