Everyone remembers the Folgers Christmas commercial. You know the one where the college student comes home on Christmas morning and he and his sister wake the rest of the family up by brewing a fresh batch of coffee. The aroma fills everyone’s nostrils and opens their eyes. As the family members come downstairs wondering who made the coffee, they are surprised and elated to see the beloved student standing in the kitchen.

Of course, you remember this commercial, they play it every holiday season to help drive sales. And why do they keep running it? Because each time someone sees it, it tugs at their heartstrings and gives them all the warm and fuzzies. You start to reminisce about the Christmas mornings you shared with your family eating breakfast and drinking coffee before tearing open the gifts under the tree. You think about how essential that first cup of piping hot coffee is to your daily routine and it may trigger that memory the next time you’re in the coffee aisle at your local supermarket.

That is brand storytelling, and when used correctly emotional branding can be a powerful marketing tool that creates customer loyalty.

Brand storytelling is a strategy that involves the use of narratives to create a deeper connection with your target audience. Brand storytelling can convey your brand’s values and convey again why your customers chose to use your products or services, or the impact your products or services make on their lives.

Approximately 80% of people prefer and love to hear brand stories. Nearly 55% would make a future purchase with a business whose brand narrative they love.

When creating engaging narratives for your brand it’s important to include:

Company members can be characters, but the most effective characters are customers, like the family of Folgers drinkers.

Using context always helps.

The use of empathy to hook the interest of the audience will assist in getting them involved with the story.

Climax and/or Resolution
The climax of your narrative should inspire and motivate.

Creating narratives that garner an emotional attachment to your brand can set you apart from not only your competitors but place you on a platform that forces the world to take notice.

Think about Nike’s campaign featuring Colin Kaepernick. The campaign was both loved and hated causing some to snatch up a pair of the swoosh embellished footwear, while others took to burning their Nikes as if they were reenacting a scene from “Waiting to Exhale.” Nike’s choice to embrace a political movement and make a public declaration that invoked controversy for the brand was a gamble.  Unlike the Folgers ad, this ad wasn’t going to get its viewers all warm and fuzzy inside. The ad was targeted and aimed to strike at the heart and consciousness of anyone who viewed it requiring nothing less than a strong emotional response. The gamble paid off for Nike; the Kaepernick ad earned $6 billion. Now that’s a lot of sneakers!

When incorporating emotional branding into your marketing strategy first begin by looking at the world through your target audience’s perspective. What are their values and experiences? Try to imagine walking a mile in your customers’ shoes; try to think about their customer journey. By doing so, you’ll discover what’s important to them and can elevate your campaign to better appeal to what resonates with them and will summon a strong effective response.

As you get to know your target audience, don’t just stop at analytics, really do the legwork to know your customer at a soul level.  When you know your customers’ needs, you can stay one-step ahead of them and deliver desires they hadn’t asked for but will be glad that you thought of. Nike’s ad with Colin Kaepernick wasn’t just a stance on Nike’s philosophy as a brand, it was also an investment in the future. Nike chose to create a campaign that would appeal to a younger demographic. A demographic who purchases the new Air Jordan’s each year, who has grown up on hip-hop being predominant in pop culture, and whose attitudes are more socially conscious. At the risk of alienating other customers, Nike’s decision to steer their campaign towards their younger consumers shows they understanding that these customers want to purchase from a brand who has the same beliefs as they do and appreciate Nike’s willingness to stand with them, which for Nike creates an even loyal base of customers for the decades to follow.

The language used in your taglines and other marketing content should spark interest and curiosity from your audiences. Allow the narratives in your campaign to draw your customers in and carry the heavy load. Good emotional branding creates a lasting impression and connection.  Admit it, don’t you always get sentimental each time you think of the Folgers Christmas ad?  And what a compelling way to introduce or reintroduce your brand to coffee drinkers. Think of how many customers purchased their coffee based on the emotions generated from that commercial.

Experience in creating evoking a response is key when creating narratives. If you are an army of one or inexperienced in using emotional branding in your marketing concepts, be sure to work with a team that can help you navigate through the nooks and crannies of research to discover the needs of your target audience and create content that speaks to the heart of their desires and produces a response that touches them and compels them to act.

Remember, marketing is always about relationships. Emotional branding is about your customer, but it also conveys a lot about your brand and how well you know your audience. Creating a campaign that hooks your target audience and gets them all in their feelings can deepen the connection your customers already have with your products and services and establish or reestablish brand loyalty that will reflect in quarter after quarter of ROI. Now doesn’t that make you feel good inside!

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