Commentary

The Strongest Brands Satisfy Two Primary Elements

“Uber is the largest car company in the world, and they don’t even own a single car.  Amazon is the world’s largest retailer and they don’t own a single storefront.”

These words, from an article published earlier in 2016, rang true for me because they signal just how important your brand is on an emotional level.  Your brand can succeed and withstand almost any adversity if the experience it provides matches its promise — but to do, so you have to satisfy two distinct areas.

In late 2015 and early 2016, Uber was in the midst of a PR nightmare, with a couple of drivers getting attacked (or attacking), and cities battling to shut the company down.  The press was hounding Uber, trying to paint its image in a negative light.  

Uber appeared to mostly ignore these attacks, which confounded me. I could not grasp how it could afford to ignore all this negative press, but I’ve come to understand that Uber execs didn’t ignore the problem. Instead, they went all Aikido with, flipping it around to focus on their customers.  

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Uber did some things with the app, it did some things with puppies and ice cream — all actions focused on the customer.

In retrospect, the majority of the negativity stemmed from Uber’s disruption of the transportation category, rather than the experience of the customer. Customers were mostly happy, being able to get from one place to another in a faster and cheaper way.   As a result, the company weathered the PR storm and seems to be doing just fine.

Amazon had the same type of situation. For years Amazon was a punching bag in the press as it expanded from selling books to selling other goods.  It got into drones and did a deal with USPS and lots of things that made news, but were not the core of the customer experience.  

While the company got its lumps in the press, it launched Amazon Prime, doubled down and offered more and more benefits to its best customers and continued to grow The Amazon brand is synonymous with innovation and customer satisfaction, and it’s a testament to what you should do as a brand.

Tesla, Apple, Microsoft:  All of these brands have taken their lumps in the press over the years, but each one continues to succeed. They all understand a simple truth: For your brand to succeed, either in B2C or B2B, you must understand your consumers’ two primary motivations as emotional and logical. If you are able to speak to both of these elements in your messaging, you are going to succeed.

Emotion is the intangible benefit to your brand.  When you buy a car, it’s why the car is red and sexy and makes you feel awesome.  

The logic is whether it gets good gas mileage and whether it’s safe enough for you to drive your family around.  It’s whether the electronics work, and if they make sense to you.  

To sell a car, you have to satisfy both customers’ emotional and logical needs, and you have to know when one or the other sways the customer more deeply.  The same goes for selling cookies and selling software, but to varying degrees — and to do both is not easy for most companies.

To be truthful, 60%-70% of companies are great at providing logical reasons to buy a product, but they ignore the emotional altogether.  This is especially true in B2B, where product marketing is king!  Most B2B companies think a brand should be synonymous with the tangible benefits of what the product does rather than what successful utilization of the product creates (for example, its customers being promoted).  

It’s not easy, but it’s a requirement for a great marketer these days: You have to satisfy the emotional quotient as well as the logical quotient for your brand.  If not, then your brand isn’t balanced, and is likely to fall flat on its face.

1 comment about "The Strongest Brands Satisfy Two Primary Elements".
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  1. Paula Lynn from Who Else Unlimited, December 22, 2016 at 12:33 a.m.

    Sold B2B products. Emotional buying is not that different from B2C, tangible or intangible. People want to feel as if they made the right choice when they are buying for themselves or for their company. They want to feel respect personally and cared about. 

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