Maya Angelou famously said, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
While she wasn’t talking about brands when she uttered these wise words, she certainly could have been. Think about Nike. Suddenly feel inspired? Or Campbell’s soup. Feeling nostalgic now? We may not remember the latest Campbell’s soup advertising campaign, but we certainly don’t forget that feeling the brand evokes.
John Hall, CEO of Influence & Co., has named this emotional response a “brand reflex”. It’s a powerful component of your brand – and key to its longevity.
To create this reflex in your own audiences, consider the three Cs:
1. Content, content, content
“With content, you can embed this reflex in your own customers,” says Hall. “Give them a voice, a personality, or an image to call upon. Do this with purpose, and you’ll find that your brand begins to take form.” Tell your stories and reinforce your brand’s values through blog posts, videos, ongoing social media posts, or a combination.
Coca-Cola, the “happy brand,” didn’t just declare that they stood for happiness and call it a day. They showed it through incredible content. Remember the “Happiness Machine” video? Just thinking about it makes you smile. Supporting that video are countless other forms of content, such as a “What is Happiness?” microsite, featuring happiness quotes, happy music they’ve created, tips for boosting your own happiness and more.
Another positive outcome of strong content: trust. Provide useful content, and you’ll build a solid, loyal audience.
Research by Edelman has found that 64 percent of consumers need to hear information from a company three to five times before they believe the message. Plan your content with a calendar – and stick to it. Use a variety of outlets, like your website, blog, social networks, e-books and e-communications, to get your content out there.
Consistency is also key when it comes to the content itself. Does your brand’s voice sound the same across all your content? Are any messages conflicting? Does your office, store or destination reinforce your brand personality and values? All elements of your brand should be complementing and strengthening one another.
If you’re struggling to support your brand story, it may be time to get real with yourself and determine if who you are trying to be aligns with who you truly are. John Costello, brands president – global marketing and innovation, of Dunkin’ Donuts explains, “Hope is not a strategy. Winners honestly assess what’s working and what’s not.”
Dunkin’ Donuts did just this, eschewing their heritage in donuts to embrace what its consumers were responding to: its coffee. Costello cites Domino’s Pizza as another example. Recognizing their pizza was viewed as low quality, they reformulated their recipes and told the story through an advertising campaign and online content.
Take the time to evaluate your strengths and weaknesses. Look at your sales, event attendance, etc. What are your audiences responding to most? Talk to both customers and non-customers about their perceptions. Doing your research may take time and money, but it will more than pay for itself in the long run if you maintain an open mind and take an honest look at your brand.