It’s easy to think of authenticity as a buzzword. But just because everyone’s using it doesn’t make it less important. It’s pertinent that we think through the tenets of authentic brand stories. And today, I’m going to look at these from the lens of emotions. Which real emotions should your brands evoke? How do you ensure that your brand elements are making your customers feel something? Here’s some research that you’re going to take notes for!
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Which Emotions Do Authentic Brand Stories Evoke?
1. Addressing the fundamental need to belong
As humans, we have a need to belong to close groups and form close bonds with the community and people around us. It’s what makes us human. People would like to form bonds without being paid to do so, as long as their needs are being addressed. And they get the feeling of comfort and trust.
You customers need to feel that they’re a part of a larger community that has similar values and needs. People like staying in groups that make them feel supported and positive. They like feeling close-knit. As a brand this means, investing in a community that stands up for its values, and incorporates positive communication. One size does not fit all, and you need to ensure that you’re true to your niche.
2. Staying motivated
Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is a great framework to analyze human behavior and motivations. Friendship, love, intimacy and a sense of belonging in social groups is critical to staying motivated. Sometimes this need to belong and be socially accepted overpowers even physiological and security needs as described in Maslow’s pyramid.
As brands it means, being aware of the feeling of acceptance and inclusiveness that you’re able to provide the community. It means staying true to the ideals of being open, transparent and valuing everyone’s opinions regardless of their social standing or any other parameters. Remember, the power of one distraught customer is not a loss in sales, but a loss of trust in an entire network or community. It’s important to understand what motivates your community and audience and deliver consistently as a brand.
3. Have a cognitive merging effect
In relationships with others, research states that we often tend to include our partners as a part of our self-concept. Expressing it through language, our self-identities are often merged. This usually happens almost in a subconscious manner in a committed relationship.
As a brand, it’s critical to ensure that your brand communication makes your audience feel committed, and a part of the larger picture. Think of a sports team that you really like. The community often uses terms like “we won the game today.” Even in situations where the ending isn’t as good, you’d hear things like, “we would have won, had the rain not disturbed the play.” This sort of unison with an someone external and using words that automatically make them a single unit, or ‘on the same side’, is what all brands should aim for.
But this goes both ways. Internally, are you developing a culture of being cohesive as a team, and ensuring that your employees are working together as a team? And in moments of winning or losing, are you still putting up a joint face, together instead of cultivating a culture of shame?
4. A sense of attachment and loyalty
Loyal friends stay on despite your idiosyncrasies and growth. They stay on to support you because they care. Loyal customers are a marketer’s dream. If you hadn’t already figured it out, here’s how a loyal customer (especially networked in today’s day and age) can be most amazing aspect of your brand. This is how loyal customers help you:
- Customer Referrals
- Customer Evangelism
- Social Sharing
- Press-Worthy Testimonials/ Earned media
- Customer Retention
Now, you can definitely not purchase loyalty. You need to invest in showing that you care, whether it’s through expressing your gratitude, or showcasing your customer’s love or by offering them exclusive love. Stay connected with the thought that you’ve earned it and are grateful for it. Do not be a prick by just sharing a sort of entitlement instead of gratitude, because that usually is short lived.
5. Happiness and fun
Various theories on new media are floating around the universe. Many wonder if social media is making us stupid, lonely or other things. But, we also know that many of us are getting on to social media to find something that we connect with. We share and feel good about things that are positive and fun.
As a brand, you want to be associated with positive news. You want your brand recall to make people think about something they liked, or a memory they associate happiness with. It’s important to stay close to this thought rather than go haywire and spread messages of negativity to go viral (unless that’s what your brand is about). Always remember to think about what your brand offers and the tonality that benefits your business, before you think about the communication that matches it! You are who you say you are. Your community will look for consistency, and as a brand it’s your responsibility to provide that!
What sort of emotions are you evoking through your brand stories? Do share your thoughts with me in the comments or on Twitter!
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