What’s more, I am at almost the 100 percent level on the “feeling” end of the “feeling-thinking” continuum, an argument he likes to pull out when we are “discussing” the costs vs. benefits of a purchase.
“You aren’t logical,” he says, all Spock-like and superior. “Remember … you got a zero on thinking.”
Well, guess what, Mr. Pointy Ears. None of us, you included, my dear, is rational when it comes to purchasing decisions. And that is the crux of branding, and why doing it well can help our businesses succeed.
In the book, “Brand Immortality,” Hamish Pringle and Peter Field analyzed data from the U.K.’s Institute of Practitioners in Advertising Effectiveness Awards to show that emotion-based ad campaigns are almost twice as likely to generate large profit gains than rational ones. Campaigns that use both emotional and rationality fell somewhere between the two.
The most important response was the emotional campaign’s ability to reduce price sensitivity, meaning buyers assign intangible qualities to a brand based on their feelings, rather than relying on logic to analyze differences in products. Even when buyers think they are making logical decisions, they are actually using facts to justify their feelings. The writers’ analysis showed that emotional buying stood true even during economic downturns, such as the current one.
This is great for well-branded companies, because when a business comes along offering a similar product at a lower cost, customers aren’t going to jump ship en masse. They also aren’t going to abandon their favorite brands when they have less money – they may reduce their overall spending and buy less, but they won’t desert them.
So what does this mean for you?
Cutting your prices to gain market share may be a mistake, especially in a recession. It signals lack of value and distinction to your target audience. Cut costs instead of prices.
- Look for ways to make your brand more distinctive rather than cheaper. Zappos.com, the online shoe company (now diversifying), charges retail prices for their shoes, but has developed an enviable following because of their free shipping both ways and no hassle return policies – up to a full year after purchase.
- Keep your brand image unified and professional. You absolutely must have a professionally designed logo, business materials and Web site, and they must be consistent. If you can’t afford this, then you can’t afford to be in business. It’s that simple.
- Emphasize service and personal attention. The higher the level of personalization, the higher the level of perceived quality. Anyone can claim to provide “excellent customer service” on the front-end. It’s only when something goes wrong and a customer is unhappy that a business’s true commitment to service shows up. Take every complaint as an opportunity to strut your stuff. Studies show that customers’ whose complaints have been happily resolved are MORE loyal than customers who’ve never had a complaint.
The next time somebody accuses you of acting “irrational,” thank them. You just may be on the right road.