Branding is an emotional journey. Your brand is how other people experience what you believe. By understanding and being tuned into the emotions of your audience, you can design a brand experience to meet their needs. Grasp their emotional journey and you will be able to attract their attention and communicate with them with more empathy, which leads to more trust. And it you can develop your audience at the same time you develop your brand.
To be clear: your audience is not buying what you do. They are buying how what you do makes them feel.
To begin to understand the emotional journey, follow this flow.
- Assess their current state
- Ask them what they’re feeling in conversations, on social or in a short survey.
- Listen for the language they are using.
- Read their energy.
- Determine what needs they are neglecting.
- What is being sacrificed?
- Where are they under-resourced?
- Do they have a scarcity mindset or an abundance mindset?
- Uncover what they want to be feeling.
- What are their hopes and aspirations?
- What does success look like for them?
- What feelings do they want to leave behind?
How to Use This Tool Humanistically
Marketing has a well-earned negative reputation for using manipulative, persuasive language based on an audience’s fears, worries, biases to shill products and services. Ethical branders and marketers don’t do this. They use these insights on the emotional state of their clients to provide inspiration, relief and hope.
How do you ethically use these insights? We will use Root + River as the model.
We refer to our ideal client as a Defier. They are a solopreneur, small business owner or head of marketing who feels called to use their brand to spread good in the world. They are skeptical of formulas and are attracted to originality, creativity and heretical ideas.
- Most Defiers come to us feeling frustrated and agitated. There is something that has eluded them in their language and that makes them feel sad or disappointed. They are certain they are different but they don’t know how to articulate what makes them different in a sincere, consistent way. They are overwhelmed by the endless myriad of marketing tactics, advice from gurus, etc. How We Speak to That: Acknowledge the frustration and agitation they feel. Throughout the initial listening process, we try to hone in on what is most frustrating for them and what feels most agitating. Then we design our work around those frustrations.
- Defiers neglect diving into the deeper meaning of the brand and uncovering a bold, radically different brand message. There’s a longing within them to do that work, but there is also frustration that they don’t know how to do it well and when to begin. How We Speak to That: We make the work accessible for them, removing the frustration by providing sample flows for a Root Session and answering any and all questions about the work or the deliverables. We also emphasize we are guides who help our clients uncover and collaborate their brand — not tell them what their brand is.
- Defiers want to feel confident, bold. They feel a desire for a sense of momentum. How We Speak to That: To that end, we focus on the essential steps to create these feelings: differentiation, ideal audience, brand language and a roll-out plan. We also encourage our clients to focus their attention on storytelling, infusing delight into the client experience and being agile with marketing plans.
We have created lifelong friendships by working to understand the emotional needs of our clients. Our clients are also our top source of new business and have become repeat customers, happily returning for additional brand coaching.
Additional ethical branding tools will be available in our new community, BeMa, launching on April 1. To learn more, go here.