Without people brands don’t exist. Building an emotionally compelling brand requires an authenticity and consistency that appeals to our human side. After all, emotions are what compel human beings—they drive how we see, feel, and think about our world and the decisions we make.

Without emotional connections―good and bad―there would be less spice to life, inspiration, energy, passion, and color. In a world cluttered with brands, all clamoring for attention, it’s the ones that strike an emotional chord, and the ones that harmonize with relevance and ease, at the moment of engagement, that are preferred and encourage consumers to return for more. These are the brands that people trust in and confidently share with others.

Our days are busy. Having brand preferences that streamline routine decisions provide a sense of belonging to something bigger and better, and it frees up the time to focus on what’s important. Because we now live in a crazy, busy world, we are much more tuned-in to our emotional instincts as a navigational skill. As employees and consumers, we are much more aware of the consistent and positive emotional experiences we have with the brands we love. The brands that we feel a positive emotional connection for, and with, rise above the others.

Brands that have Created Positive Connections

One brand that works hard to make an emotional connection, with a high degree of consistency at every touch point, is Starbucks. With every visit it is reinforced: from the recognizable, well-presented product display in the cafe of the Federal Courthouse in New York City, to the comfortable, friendly, and uniquely inviting local vibe at a location in Moscow―albeit the only one that, for political reasons, is not adorned with the traditional green, highly recognizable color signal (it’s interior design and employees are on brand though). And, while over the years there have been some not-so-good encounters with the brand, the trust and emotional connection created by Starbucks―and, the consistency in knowing that you will always encounter a warm and easy experience combined with the fulfillment of your drink of choice, no matter where it happens to be―keeps consumers coming back.

But, we all know about the Starbucks example, right? And, Apple and Google, as well. The lessons from these brands are spouted ad nauseam. The question is, who has been able to distill and create for themselves what these brands have done without coming across as a copycat?

We offer another coffee example, Nespresso. The up-market espresso and coffee machine company is a brand with a cult following. It simply is a brand many caffeine lovers love to love because of the positive connections that have been created through a series of well-crafted touchpoints.

  • Boutiques as a destination point. Each Nespresso store is a tightly controlled retail experience with superior staff; sleek, well recognized uniforms, and stellar displays. In this way they have emulated Apple’s retail experience without imitating it.
  • Brand strategy with storytelling. From high-end glossy magazines, to commercials and a web channel featuring George Clooney, Penelope Cruz, and John Malkovich, Nespresso reinforces clear, compelling messaging while also highlighting up-market brand values.
  • Product as a work of art. Nespresso’s espresso machines are created with key brand and design elements that turn a simple coffee maker into something more: a beautiful sculpture that looks more at home in the living room next to a well-stocked bar than in the kitchen.

Think about how you feel about the brands you connect with―whether it be Google, MINI, Avis, or Nespresso―and the emotions you feel when engaging with these brands. The brands that come to mind, good or bad, do so because they have made an emotional connection with you. Now, how do you feel about your company’s brand as an employee and/or consumer? Does your brand have an easily recognizable emotional story? Has the brand made a connection with you?

Assess your Brand by asking:

  • Is your brand full of life? Or, is it lacking visual energy and inspiration?
  • Does your brand convey a clear, compelling sentiment? Or, is it missing emotion or the characteristics that reinforce a positive, easy-to-understand connection?
  • Is the look, feel, and experience of your brand in sync? Or, is there a disparity?
  • Does your brand’s message shine through? Or, is there an absence of structure and focus in the design and messaging?

And, then ask others their thoughts in order to gather another perspective. Taken all together, it may be that your brand foundation is lacking a unique position that enables an emotional connection that filters through every interaction. If that is the case, begin looking for brand stories that reveal differentiating and positive emotions—find the emotions that come naturally, that are authentic and unique, and use these to serve as a base to build upon.

Mike Herburger is Monigle’s Senior Creative Director. From Moscow to Denver and New York City, he is a creative, caffeine-fueled genius who is always on the lookout for brands to love.

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Mike Herburger
February 27, 2014 By Mike Herburger