As a marketer, you are quite aware of the connection between branding and emotion. Countless books and articles have been written about it in the past few years. It's clear that people make decisions in life based on emotion. And decisions about the brands with which we choose to associate are incredibly emotional.
"The heart has its reasons which the mind
cannot comprehend." Blaise Pascal
Jennifer Rice at Mantra Communications demonstrated just how emotional we are about brands. She typed "I love [specific brand]" into Google and noted the number of items Google returned. She did this for many well-known brands to see how much we really love them.
So I took the top five brands that had the greatest impact in the US and Canada in 2005 (according to Interbrand) and followed Jennifer's example to see how much we love them. And here's what I found.
Clearly, there's lots of lovin' going on with our favorite brands.
Love: v. A deep, tender, ineffable feeling of affection and solicitude toward a person, such as that arising from kinship, recognition of attractive qualities, or a sense of underlying oneness.
In his book, Kevin Roberts, CEO of Saatchi and Saatchi, argues even more strongly for the connection between emotion and the success of certain brands. He illustrates how some brands just command greater loyalty. He calls them "Lovemarks" and describes them as brands that inspire loyalty beyond reason.
To Advance Your Career, Be Loved
All this talk about emotions and successful brands is music to the ears of career-minded marketers who want to get ahead. If it's the emotional brand attributes that are so critical to loyalty, then who better to build this type of loyalty than human beings?
We certainly have an edge over products, companies and cities. We too must inspire loyalty beyond reason if we want to be in control of our careers.
In his blog, Marketing Guru Seth Godin wrote:
What chance is there that your totally average resume, describing a totally average academic and work career is going to get you most jobs? "Hey Bill! Check out this average guy with an average academic background and really exceptionally average work experience! Maybe he's cheap!!" Do you hire people that way? Do you choose products that way? People are buying only one thing from you: the way [you] make them feel. So how do you make people feel?
Don't get me wrong. Being loved is not about pleasing everyone. As a professional, you need to make decisions that are going to be unpopular with some people. And strong brands take a stand; they don't try to be all things to all people.
But developing emotional connections with your constituencies will ensure that people respect you even if they don't agree with everything you do. Success today means putting more of who you are into what you do. It's not a luxury, it's a mandate that you be yourself.
All You Need Is Love
Well, in fact, you need more than love. When building your personal brand, you need to have a sturdy brand foundation of rational brand attributes. Those attributes illustrate your competence and make you credible. Even the most lovable among us won't get too far without being able to demonstrate results.
But when building your personal brand, emotion is an essential component that will help you create greater loyalty among your various constituencies. You can see it all around you. You know people in your company who just exude attractive qualities that get people using the 'L' word when they describe them. The most winning brands succeed by exuding a solid combination of genuine rational and emotional brand attributes.
"To be be loved, be lovable." Ovid.
Tim Sanders, the author of The Likeability Factor, says that there are four personality traits that contribute to a person's likeability: friendliness, relevance (do you connect on interests or needs?), empathy, and realness (authenticity).
Being loved means creating an emotional bond through the recognition of your attractive qualities—those that are authentic to you ("realness," as Tim Sanders describes it), appealing to your target audience (relevance), and differentiating from your peers.
Look at Tom Peters. He's brilliant in understanding the role of emotions in building connections. Everything he does comes with his large dose of emotion—enthusiasm, passion, and energy. The words in his books almost leap off the pages. His PowerPoint slides are bold and provocative. His public speeches are rocket fuel. His corporate symbol, after all, is an exclamation point!
And that totally describes who he is. He is a master at using his authentic brand attributes to build emotional connections, and hence loyalty, among his followers.
How Much Do I Love Thee?
That's the question that your manager is really asking when deciding on the size of your bonus or whether she wants to put you on the layoff list. And it's the question that hiring manager is asking after having interviewed you. You need to face it: It's all about love.
This is as refreshing as it is true. It means that as a "careerist" you can build loyalty beyond reason with your employer, peers, managers, and among all those people who need to know about you so that you can reach your career goals. To do this, you must be keenly aware of your brand attributes, how others perceive you. What is your combination of rational and emotional brand attributes? What makes you lovable?
You have the power to be a megabrand (think Seth Godin, Malcolm Gladwell, Tom Peters). The "trick" is to maximize your emotional connections and consistently exude your brand attributes to build your reputation and inspire loyalty beyond reason.
One Last Thing
Here are five tips for inspiring loyalty beyond reason:
- Take inventory of your personal brand attributes (rational and emotional). You can perform a complementary self-assessment at my Web site: www.reachcc.com/360personalprofiler.
- Get external input on your brand attributes. This will help you validate your self-assessment and provide insights into how you are currently perceived. You can't change perceptions if you don't know what they are.
- Decide which attributes (that are authentic to you) are relevant and compelling to your target audience and are differentiating from those of your peers.
- Live in the inquiry. Ask yourself how you can inject more of these brand attributes into everything you do—every report you author, every email you write, every telephone conversation you have.
- Assess. Ask for feedback. Measure results. Are you being perceived more consistently? Are you more fulfilled? Are you more successful? More loved?
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