“What is your why?”
It is a tricky question to answer because, from a biological perspective, we lack the capacity. Simon Sinek, management consultant and author of “Start With Why,” claims that “the limbic brain is responsible for all of our thoughts and feelings, such as trust and loyalty. It is also responsible for human behavior and all of our decision-making, but it has no capacity for language,” which is why we have a hard time articulating how much we love someone or why we love a particular brand even if their product or service is more expensive.
Instead, we use phrases like “they have great customer service” or “they make a quality product.” Both may be true, but those are rational responses, and these thoughts do not come from the area that drives decision-making. The neocortex manages all of our analytical thinking. It can consume and comprehend vast amounts of information, but it does not drive behavior.
So, why are we willing to pay more for a specific brand? I would argue that we identify with the brand’s purpose on a visceral level. For example, Recreational Equipment Inc.’s motto is “a life outdoors is a life well-lived.” Nothing in this slogan mentions customer service or quality products, but this motto resonates with a particular person, which creates brand loyalty.
Affordable prices and excellent customer service will always be a component of a successful business model, but these alone are no longer acceptable. Businesses must move away from thinking of their customers in quantifiable terms so they can cut through the noise of our content-fueled environment and evolve their communication to resonate with a more intuitive audience. They must strike a balance between profit and purpose or risk becoming irrelevant. The first step towards achieving equilibrium is for business leaders to ask themselves, “what is the why of my organization?”
Fortunately, entities known as brand experience agencies are experts at helping brands answer this very question. This past summer, I had the opportunity to intern with such an agency, and I gained some valuable insight. For example, connecting with customers on an emotional level is not specific to a particular industry. I worked with brands from the health & fitness, supply chain, and sustainable investing sectors. These brands focused on drastically different market segments, but they all saw the benefit of establishing a deeper relationship with their customer base.
Additionally, customers have more interactions with your brand than you think, so consistency becomes paramount. Working with a branding agency can ensure that your customers have an excellent & dependable experience across the board. Lastly, it is essential to lead with the challenges rather than a preconceived solution. Branding agencies will spend a considerable amount of time identifying the obstacles your customers are facing. This process is extensive because it requires understanding where these challenges stem from but critical because your brand’s messaging will be delivered with empathy, leading to a more loyal customer base and, subsequently, better customer service and a higher quality product.
Emotional messaging isn’t all kittens and butterflies either (unless, of course, you’re an animal shelter or garden center). Here is an example of how R+M tapped into the emotional drivers of what many might assume is a pretty black and white industry: warehousing, logistics and transportation. Drop your thoughts in the comments below!