Using Your Brand to Make An Emotional Connection


Let's discuss how branding can help us make an emotional connection with agents and clients. IMCA turned to brand strategist Derrick Daye for his thoughts on why today’s brands need to make an emotional connection with agents and clients.

Human-centered or human-centric seems to be the new marketing buzzword. What does human-centric branding look like?

Brands that operate at the human-centric level enjoy deeper connections and earn a lasting place in people’s lives. We have many metrics to support this now. Therefore, it’s imperative to build the human side of your business.

At the core of every brand is its reason for being, its purpose. Purpose is the difference that a brand makes in people’s lives. It’s the answer to a human need and — when strong enough — the catalyst for lasting relationships. 

As trust has eroded with institutions and legacy organizations, we are seeing brands stepping forward, filling the trust void and becoming the catalysts for connection and community. By recognizing that the world needs the warmth of human-centric brands you can set out to adopt human qualities to attract customers in the human-centric era.

For forward-thinking brands the concept is well beyond the buzzword and is a way of life.

Why is it harder to make that emotional connection in B2B marketing?

B2B brands have different drivers than consumer brands. No one makes a solo decision to buy or hire a B2B brand. Typically, there are multiple decision-makers involved, each with their own specific areas of responsibility and priority. As a result, the decision to use a B2B brand is often strongly influenced by track record, responsiveness, knowledge and, of course, reputation.

It’s tempting to believe B2B brands lack emotion because they are subject to highly logical decisions. That’s not the case.  B2B is purchased emotionally as well as logically. However, the emotions for buying B2B are very different from those of consumer brands. For the most part, B2B brands need to focus on risk alleviation. In contrast to the excitement that consumer brands are looking to generate, B2B brands need to focus on generating emotions centered on reassurance — professionally, technically, financially, legally and of course personally (for those championing use of the brand itself).

Two other insights are worth noting. The first is that the sense of value add is most important for publicly visible products and services. Next, that the importance of a strong and recognized brand increases significantly for those products and services that are clearly visible to the end user.

Indeed it is harder to make emotional connections in B2B but it’s every bit as rewarding. An important shift must take place in the organization’s mindset in managing B2B brands. It’s the acceptance that brands have moved from B2B and B2C to B2P —  business to people.

You encourage marketers to overcommit to their brand promise. What do you mean by that?

Marketers talk about the ideas they’re committed to and are quick to tell themselves and each other that they’re doing a good job of bringing these things to market. But the numbers tell a different story. One piece of research I saw recently said that while 85 percent of brands think they’re delivering great experiences, only 15 percent of customers think they’re receiving them.

So there’s a significant gap between what brands believe they’ve committed to and what customers feel they’ve committed to. Simply put, from a customer perspective the evidence isn’t there. Over-commitment is just that, going beyond the delivery of the brand’s promise. That requires identifying new ways to reinforce and keep the promise. The more evidence, the more trust.

Take your customer’s journey. Over-commit at every point and in every moment of customer contact.

In your recent IMCA webinar, you stated that insurance companies don’t have a license to be boring. So what can they do to not feel so stale?

Today, no one has a license to be boring; brands have to be interesting or else. In an increasingly over-communicated society, brands are either noise or a signal. GEICO, for example, proved that humor and personality could create and drive an advantage, others eventually followed.

Brands are the sum of all experiences a customer has with you. With that in mind, a good exercise is to think about how you want your customers to remember your brand and find creative ways to reinforce that. The process should eliminate the dull areas in the experience. What counts is what gets remembered.

For more of Derrick’s thoughts on brand, listen to his recorded IMCA webinar, Brand Leadership in an Age of Disruption.