The emotional recovery
It's never easy to fervently disagree with a client. But when a brand manager from one of our biggest clients insisted that rational rather than emotional messaging should be our strategy for the next fiscal, I was forced to differ. The purely rational brand communications of recession is over. Today's consumers are seeking to reconnect with brands on a much more emotional platform, which means the rational functional forms of persuasion are no longer enough.
Rekindling the romance
During the recession, marketers understood consumers' need to justify purchases as they became more selective and less inclined to make impulse buys. But post-recession, I have observed that rational decisions don't bring consumers the same satisfaction as acquiring a product they have simply fallen in love with.
At the height of recession, research proved that consumers were bombarded with 70 rational messages every minute. It's understandable why consumers started to filter rational brand messages out and why emotional messaging is now required to break through and reconnect brands with people.
Good intentions go bad
Another recession marketing trend amongst the bigger brands was product innovation. Big budgets allowed the industry giants to research and develop new and innovative rational benefits in the hopes to steady or gain market share. Ironically, this strategy resulted in breaking the emotional connection with consumers. This has proved a blessing in disguise for less affluent brands who remained true to their emotional positioning - they are now reaping the rewards as consumers are feeling connected to their brands through thick and thin.
Emotional brand messages should ensure they communicate brand values in a consistent and authentic manner. At Gullan&Gullan we call this a brand-centric methodology and we have never been more successful implementing this methodology on our clients brands as post-recession. Think about it, brand values give you a foundation on which to build your emotional communications. With a brand-centric approach you can re-ignite neglected emotional pillars resulting in marketing messages with a deeper - and relevant - emotional significance.
Get in on the conversation
There has also been a move towards social media and other online platforms to engage with consumers on an emotional level. Traditional online was viewed as a platform for providing rational information with limited means for two-way interaction. This was the Web1 phase of our online marketing evolution. Today, Web2 marketers are facilitating online conversations, emotional engagements and relationships with brands via social media. The amplification effect, or viral online word-of-mouth, can work to your brand's advantage.
Brands operating in this space should engage with communities in a transparent fashion to make sure users' emotional requirements are fulfilled. Social media is an ongoing lesson in human and consumer behaviour and Gullan&Gullan has experienced huge uptake from our clients who are recognising the potential of social media to provide emotional engagement with consumers and their brands.
I cannot deny that there is one recession marketing trend that has outlived the financial turmoil. Authentic, transparent communication goes hand-in-hand with emotional messaging. So avoid the cutesy, smart-ass overly creative messaging of the past and provide consumers with real, authentic brand conversations.
The balancing act
While we get our heads around new media and the emotional branding opportunities it presents, we can also enjoy the growth that the recovery will bring. Our advice to clients is to optimise current products and offerings, and up sell to current consumers whose budgets might have also recovered. Use new media to engage with communities and provide emotional outputs to cater for changing consumer needs. But don't neglect all your past hard work.
Also, remember that emotional messaging should not be your only focus, as you will leave consumers with no justification for purchasing your brand. And lets face it, there are still many consumers who value utility over all. If you can achieve a balance of emotional and rational messaging, you are minimising any doubts your consumer may have. And creating a formidable point of difference that's sure to keep your clients satisfied and talking about your brand in the rich social community spaces you have facilitated.
About the author
Michael Gullan is the Managing Director and founder of Gullan&Gullan Advertising (Pty) Ltd. He has more than two decades experience at creating value for brands on client accounts from food and beverage, to cosmetics, mail order, medical, publishing and financial services. Gullan&Gullan's propriety brand-centric methodology forms the basis of every communication service Gullan&Gullan offer their clients, ensuring that the brand's core values are expressed in a congruent, consistent manner at every touch point. [[www.gullanandgullan.com]], [[email@example.com]], 011 887 6591.
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