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Brand-Personality Self-Analysis: Finding Your Brand's Emotional Aftertaste

Jan 26, 2008
Marketing is difficult because it is unlike any other business discipline. Most of our business day is filled with left-brain tasks that may be complex but are for the most part logical and procedural in nature whereas marketing and branding are right-brain activities governed by that hated enemy of rational business thinking, psychology.

Most businesses advertise; a rather common practice designed to get the word out about your company, product, or service. A lot of companies despair at the thought of advertising as they see little immediate or obvious return on their investment. In some cases this dissatisfaction is based on misplaced expectations and a misunderstanding of what is actually being achieved, while in other cases frustration results from plain old fashion failure. This could be the reason why so many businesses have fallen in love with click-through schemes where you only pay for presumed actual results, however the definition here of results is rather liberal.

It is comforting to many to reduce the mysterious dark-art of marketing to promotional advertising where physical results can be tabulated, measured, analyzed, and scrutinized, so that adjustments can be made or more likely blame can be laid. Unfortunately falling in love with the number of ad impressions and click-through rates misses the point: how long are people staying on your website, how much of your message are they really absorbing, is your message designed to actually be retained in your audience's memory, and is that message compelling enough to have that audience return when they are ready to act?

Advertising Is About Delivering Your Message

Advertising is about delivering your message and if the only message you deliver is that you reduced your price or added a new feature, then all you are really doing is conditioning your audience to wait for sales and buy from whomever is offering the most features at the lowest price.

On the other hand, if your advertising is intended to create a unique identity for your business that appeals to your audience on a higher level of customer satisfaction then it's time to take a close look at exactly what message you should be delivering. And that message is the essence of the dreaded B-word, branding.

You've heard it before but it bears repeating, all businesses are brands: it is the collective experience your audience has with your company, product, or service. Failure to define, develop, and deliver a differentiating brand experience will result in your audience developing their own opinion of you based on limited experience and faulty information, guaranteeing misplaced expectations and advertising failure.

How To Develop Your Brand Message

Exactly how do you escape the bondage of price and feature thinking and free yourself to develop a unique brand presentation that differentiates you from your competition?

According to Patrick Renvoise, author of 'Neuromarketing: Understanding the Buy Buttons in Your Customer's Brain,' the decision to purchase your product is ultimately made in what is referred to as the "old brain." This old brain just doesn't give the relatively new, in evolutionary terms, written word much credence, and instead relies heavily on the five senses that generate experiences and memories.

This understanding of how the brain works helps us craft a marketing message that works. If the written word alone lacks sales power, video and audio must be the way to deliver your advertising, but how do we develop an appropriate, effective message.

Brand Development For the Brand-Challenged Business

Branding is the position you own in your audience's collective mind, it is the sum total of all experiences that audience has with all things associated with your company, products, and services. These experiences are filtered through our five senses: sound, sight, touch, smell, and taste, all of which can be delivered through the appropriate and innovative implementation of Web-video.

Never underestimate the effect each of these senses has on the impression you leave with your customers. Not too many people thought how a computer looked was much of an issue in selling computers until Apple changed everyone's perception of what a computer could and should look like, and so too can you shape the perceptions of your audience by carefully managing and differentiating your brand's image.

The experiences clients have with your company leaves an "emotional aftertaste" according to psychologist and author Claude Steiner. It is this lingering aftertaste that forms the mental impression that creates the brand image. Our goal as marketers is to create a positive aftertaste that eventually generates contact with your company and ultimately induces a decision to purchase your goods and services.

But before you shape and craft this brand image you should analyze what the perception of your brand is. Asking direct questions is not the best way to find out what people really think. An interesting, enlightening, and highly inventive way to analysis the current perception of your company, product, or service is to ask employees, customers, or anyone else that comes in contact with your business a series of out-of-the-ordinary questions, not the usual focus group material.

Finding Your Brand's Emotional Aftertaste

The questions below are examples of the kinds of things you can ask your colleagues, associates, and clients, in order to get an idea of what they really think of your brand and if that impression is the one you want to continue to foster, or if you need to go back to the drawing board and create new experiences and better advertising that generates a more positive emotional aftertaste and a more effective brand image.

You can add or make-up your own questions based on the following format: "If your brand were a 'concept here', what 'concept' would it be? Explain why?" If the word brand stumps your colleagues that's a sure sign you have a problem, so try substituting the phrase "company, product, or service" for brand. Make sure the concepts you use are as removed from your normal frame of reference as possible and try to find ones that tap into some kind of emotional aftertaste and see what results you get. You will most likely be very surprised, bemused, and enlightened by the results.

The Emotional Brand Aftertaste Questionnaire

If your brand were a color, what color would it be? Explain why.

If your brand were a car, what car would it be? Explain why.

If your brand were an actor, what actor would it be? Explain why.

If your brand were a city, what city would it be? Explain why.

If your brand were a flavor, what flavor would it be? Explain why.

If your brand were a garment, what garment would it be? Explain why.

If your brand were a movie, what movie would it be? Explain why.

If your brand were an animal, what animal would it be? Explain why.

If your brand were a surprise anniversary present, how would your spouse react?

If your brand were found in a supermarket, what item would it be? Explain why. If your item is normally found in a supermarket substitute a pharmacy, home decorating center or some other non-obvious alternative.

The Web and How To Deliver Your Brand Image

The reason our company recommends Web-video marketing is that it is the best way to deliver your marketing message by utilizing and referencing the five senses that create the experience that forms and embeds the brand in an audience's collective consciousness.

A while back I wrote about a campaign that Kleenex was running called "let it out" which in my opinion was a great example of how to use Web-video to deliver a marketing message. I recently noticed that Kleenex was porting this campaign over to television with the videos re-edited into a shortened television-friendly collage and the result was the entire soul of the campaign was lost.

The abridged television format did not allow enough time to capture the emotionally charged dialogue; in fact if I hadn't already seen the Web-versions of these videos, I would have entirely missed the point of the commercials. Perhaps it is a good thing that television advertising is out of reach to most small advertisers while professional Web-video is affordable for any viable business.

Marketers should take heart that the Web combined with Web-video offers a far more effective venue to deliver a memorable marketing message than television or print, but just any message won't do. Craft your message around your brand's emotional aftertaste and you should see results. If Web-video can turn a commodity like facial tissue into an emotionally charged brand then imagine what it could do for you.
About the Author
Jerry Bader is Senior Partner at MRPwebmedia, a website design firm that specializes in Web-audio and Web-video. Visit http://www.mrpwebmedia.com/ads, http://www.136words.com, and http://www.sonicpersonality.com. Contact at info@mrpwebmedia.com or telephone (905) 764-1246.
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