Building a Brand Based on Emotions: Control

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Posted Oct 03, 2012
Susan Gunelius

Most people like to feel like they're in control of their lives, futures, environment, and so on. Therefore, it makes sense for brand marketers to evoke emotions related to that desire for control through marketing messages and branded experiences. Those messages can be extremely direct, making it incredibly clear that the brand puts customers in control, or they can be very indirect, enabling consumers' subconscious minds to latch onto a feeling of being in control -- regardless of whether or not the consumer actually has any control in the brand relationship.

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building a brand based on emotion

In other words, creating the perception that the consumer is in control can be just as effective as putting the consumer in the driver's seat.

Simple customization or personalization of products, services, and brand experiences is often enough to make consumers feel like they're in control of their purchase decisions. In fact, the previous sentence includes the most important word in creating marketing messages and branded experiences that put consumers in control -- literally or figuratively.  That word is decisions.

For consumers to feel like they're in control, they need to feel like they're calling the shots. They need to feel like there are choices available to them, and they control the entire decision-making process. This makes them feel like they're in control of their relationship with a brand from end-to-end.

Benchmarking Brands

Remember the old Burger King tagline that successfully positioned it against its top competitor and fast food market leader McDonald's? "Have It Your Way." Four simple words allowed consumers to feel like they were in control of their choices, purchases, money, and experience at Burger King.

burger king have-it-your-way online ad

Progressive provides another great example of a brand that effectively taps into consumers' desires to be in control. At first glance, you might think that Progressive focuses only on consumers' desires to get a good deal and a great value for their money, but the brand also evokes feelings related to consumers' desires for control.

progressive name your price ad

The Progressive Name Your Price program allows consumers to pick and choose what they want to include in their Progressive insurance policies. They're in control of their coverage, pricing, and relationship with the brand. Even though Progressive is in control of what options and pricing are offered to consumers, its customers feel like they have control of the relationship, and that's what counts.

Progressive makes consumers feel even more like they're in control using copy like you see in the ad below telling them, "You have the right to name your price." Why do business with another brand that dictates what your insurance policy and payments will be when Progressive let's you choose? It's a great marketing strategy that effectively positions Progressive in consumers' minds against the brand's competitors.

progressive you have the right ad

Conducting Market Research

Using market research, brands can ask consumers what aspects of the buying experience, features of the product, and parts of the ongoing relationship with the brand they'd like to control. Survey questions that ask consumers to identify the things they want to have choices about can reveal a wealth of opportunities for competitive differentiation.

The data you gather can help you create marketing programs and marketing messages that increase existing customer loyalty and attract new customers who can't get the level of control your brand offers from the brands they currently use.

Remember, it's just as effective to make consumers perceive that they're in control as it is to actually give them control. That's where clever marketers and copywriters come into the picture who can create amazing programs and craft compelling copy that makes consumers believe they're in control.

If you missed other parts of the ongoing Building a Brand Based on Emotions series, follow the links below to read them now:

Images: Abdulaziz Almansour, Burger King, Progressive

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