A New Take on Branding-Use all of the senses

“I ‘felt’ your brand today and something wasn’t quite right”.

My object of desire was sitting there, cool, red & white. “This is it!” I was in a meeting and I needed something to add life to the afternoon, so I grabbed it. Suddenly my experiences and expectations clashed!  I looked at the object. It LOOKED right. It was the right COLORS. I opened it and it TASTED right, but something was wrong. I never thought of a branded “feel” before.

Branding is what we try to do as we attempt to identify ourselves, our company and our product or service. The human brain reached its present level of development a few thousand years ago and was perfect for mastodon hunting, since all mastodons were mostly the same. You might say that, if you’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all and all you had to know was the difference between a mastodon and a walrus! But today’s product promises choice, especially with the millennial generation;  bigger, better, quicker, longer-lasting or some other unique guarantee. Witness the high stakes battle currently going on between Apple and Samsung. Both have market presence with exceptional brand recognition, and some of us have been around long enough to remember when Apple was a ridiculously exclusive computer—who/what the heck was Samsung or Dell?

Branding happens when a promise is made and fulfilled time after time.  We knew what to expect from a product or service. Addressing preferred brand behavior is one of the most challenging jobs in marketing and must be thoughtfully considered from the viewpoint of the customer.  I will offer that branding extends to all of the five senses as well as the mental perceptions associated with the use of that product, object, or service.

Cognitive dissonance is basically the confusion that occurs when what you expect one thing from a product or service and then after use, experience something else. If you buy an Apple computer, you have certain expectations and probably know how it should “feel” when you use it. When your expectations meet reality, it’s a happy moment and brand loyalty is established and rewarded.

Now back to my story.  If you were sent by the tribe to bring back a mastodon, they would not be impressed with a walrus. The tribe would be experiencing cognitive dissonance. As a lifelong lover of the southern delicacy called Coca-Cola, the new 7.5 ounce can looked right to me, had the right colors, and tasted right when I finally sipped it. However, as I sat in the meeting and pondered the skinny, short little can of Coke, I had a sad revelation. My brand no longer felt “right” in my hand. The company had apparently made a conscious decision to downsize the can to energy drink size and improve profits simultaneously without telling me, the most important customer in the world!

Now what? Maybe I’ll get one of the drinks from the OTHER guys whose can is red, white, and blue and still offer my preferred size; maybe they still love me best. It’s not nice to surprise your customer with a change to your brand. Give them what they expect or at least warn them.

If you want to discuss your branding strategy call me! 770-531-5681

Ron Simmons


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