Integrated Branding is the use of brand identity, personality, advertising, retail promotions & services, product design, print collateral, website and online marketing, etc. to make your target market associate your particular company with admirable character traits and core values. Integrated branding is also an organizational structure and process that presents a consistent message, image and personality across all marketing efforts. It allows a business and brand to speak with a consistent, unified voice.
What Is Brand Soul?
Brands with soul share a passion and motivation with their consumers, they have a clear reason for being. The brand soul is not necessarily a mission or a charitable cause, although it can be that. Brand soul is usually related to values and ethics, such as quality, self-esteem, integrity or identity. The brand is a champion of some set of uplifting human values or personality traits. A brand without soul appeals to logic only by relying on a hard sell and is primarily focused on product features. Brands with soul usually have an emotional underpinning around the role (spirit) that their products can provide in the way people experience life. To communicate soul, brands commonly employ emotional communication strategies.
What Is Emotional Branding?
Emotional Branding is a term used within marketing communications that refers to the practice of building brands that appeal directly to consumer’s emotional state, needs and aspirations. Emotional branding is successful when it triggers an emotional response in the consumer, that is, a desire for the advertised brand (or product) that cannot fully be rationalized. Emotional brands have a significant impact when the consumer experiences a strong and lasting attachment to the brand comparable to a feeling of bonding, companionship or love.
The purpose of emotional branding is to create a bond between the consumer and the product by provoking the consumer’s emotion. Vance Packard’s ‘The Hidden Persuaders’ speaks to the emotional response of consumers to advertising. It reads, ” In the buying situation, the consumer generally acts emotionally and compulsively, unconsciously reacting to the images and designs that are associated with the product.” The notion that emotion is not only associated with compulsiveness and irrationality, but is a subconscious reaction, is the framework that drives emotional branding theory.
Today’s most successful companies have built relationships with consumers by engaging them in a personal dialogue that responds to their spoken and tacit needs. Marketers who’ve broken through the clutter have done so by connecting with consumers and, thereby, have created strong emotional bonds through their brands. You have to have a love affair with the consumer – flirt with them, provide that titillating buzz. When that flirtatious relationship becomes a deep relationship, then you have a major brand.
Emotional branding creates a personality for the brand. Identity is recognition. Personality is about character and charisma! Brand identities express a point of difference in the competitive landscape — but that’s just the first step. Brand personalities are special: They evoke an emotional response. The brand personality is crucial in emotional branding.
The combination of all brand touch points and interactions … across all forms of brand communication, the retail space, product design & performance, product packaging and service, make up a customer’s total brand experience. Both customers and prospects form brand perceptions based on all these touch points and interactions. When the brand elements are unique, strong and favorable this is what builds brand equity in the consumer’s mind, and it is composed of four key dimensions: differentiation, relevance, esteem and knowledge. Various branding methods impact different dimensions of brand equity, which must be carefully considered by marketers or brand managers when they are striving to achieve one powerful, integrated brand experience.
1. Differentiation: Perceived distinctiveness of the brand
Differentiation is a brand’s ability to stand apart from others, and to gain consumer choice, preference and loyalty. It is the degree to which consumers find a brand unique. A compelling and memorable brand experience can attract customers’ attention and maintain their interest, and therefore contribute to brand differentiation.
2. Relevance: Personal appropriateness of the brand
Relevance refers to how meaningful a brand is to their target consumers. Relevant brands are both appropriate and appealing. Niche and growing brands may choose to focus first on differentiation and then on relevance, whereas leading brands will excel on all four dimensions.
3. Esteem: Regard for the brand
Esteem measures the degree to which the target audiences regard and respect a brand—in short, how well it is liked. When a company grows larger and becomes more mature, brand esteem becomes more and more important. Today, companies often use both emotional branding strategies in traditional media and indirect experiential branding methods to build brand esteem.
4. Knowledge: Understanding of What the Brand Stands For
Knowledge determines whether there is a true understanding of what a brand stands for. Brand awareness is a sub-component of knowledge. The level of brand knowledge is a signal of the company’s past performance, as well as a foundation for its further development. Positive and accurate understanding of the brand among target consumers results in brand loyalty. However, it is not enough for a brand to tell consumers what their brand means, they have to show them, and what better way to do this than through brand experience.
This is what Apple did with Apple stores, what Nike did with its Nike owned stores and what Starbucks has done with its grand café concept The Roastery.
Brand soul, emotional branding and experiential branding combined, present companies with an opportunity for a powerful, creative and integrated process that focuses on customer experience, contributes to brand differentiation, esteem, relevance, and knowledge, and can offer a more powerful way to build a sustainable brand. Through combining traditional media, interactive technologies, innovative retail spaces, and indirect online brand communication methods, consumers can now see, touch, hear, taste, and smell brands in ways they never could before. Advertising alone or price-slashing product promotions are not sustainable methods for brand building. An integrated and creative approach, with the objective of building lasting and defensible brand equity, has emerged as the most promising and viable alternative.
These and other insights into brand truth, purpose and deep campaigns is covered in greater detail in my book, Soulful Branding – Unlock the Hidden Energy In Your Company and Brand.
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Branding Strategy Insider is a service of The Blake Project: A strategic brand consultancy specializing in Brand Research, Brand Strategy, Brand Licensing and Brand Education