Building Brand Emotion - Part 3

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Posted Feb 16, 2012
Susan Gunelius

Emotional Branding, Brand Loyalty, and Relationship Brands

So far in the Building Brand Emotion series, you learned what emotional branding is and how to appeal to emotions in brand messages and experiences. In Part 3 of the series, you learn how emotional branding leads to brand loyalty and helps to create the most powerful kind of brands -- relationship brands.

building brand emotion

Emotional Branding and Brand Loyalty

It's human nature to feel some kind of loyalty toward something that you feel an emotional connection to. That includes brands.

There are three primary steps to generating emotional involvement in a brand, which I refer to as the 3 S's of Customer Loyalty:

  1. Stability: Customers become emotionally involved in a brand when it sends a consistent message.
  3. Sustainability: Customers become emotionally involved in a brand when they expect that brand to be available to them for a long time or for a specific period of time with a predetermined and accepted end.
  5. Security: Customers become emotionally involved with a brand when that brand gives them a feeling of peace-of-mind. In other words, they can trust it.

Brand managers that keep the 3 S's of Customer Loyalty in mind as they develop brand marketing and growth strategies will naturally achieve better results. That's because people innately want to feel stability, sustainability, and security, and those desires don't stop when it comes to choosing brands.

It's not surprising that these three steps align perfectly with the three primary steps of brand building -- consistency, persistence, and restraint. Follow these two sets of steps, and your brand will be positioned for long-term success driven by emotional involvement and loyalty.

Emotional Branding Leads to Relationship Brands

People who feel an emotional response to your brand and feel secure in the fact that the brand will continue to meet their expectations, are highly likely to become loyal to your brand. That means they'll go out of their way to purchase your brand over all others even if that means traveling distances to get it. They'll also talk about your brand to other people, driving a powerful form of word-of-mouth marketing that money can't buy.

When consumers feel emotionally connected to a brand and find other people who feel the same way, a cult following can develop, and the brand can become a cult brand. That means a niche audience of loyalists advocate the brand and look for ways to experience it together.

As the cult brand grows to attract a wider audience of loyal followers, the cult brand can grow into a relationship brand, which is the most powerful kind of brand. Relationship brands often fill a void in people's lives and consumers look for new ways to experience the brand, particularly in groups. They also create their own ways to experience the brand. User-generated content on the social web, events, meet-ups, and more become popular among the most loyal relationship brand followers.

star trek convention

Harley Davidson is one of the best examples of a relationship brand. Star Wars and Star Trek are also great examples with popular branded conventions showcasing just how emotionally invested people are in these brands. It seems like everyone knows someone who is a Star Wars or Star Trek fan, and with the introduction of new video games, comic books, and more products and branded experiences, these brands show no signs of falling out of favor anytime soon.

Now that you know what building brand emotion can do for a brand, it's time to learn how you can identify the types of emotions to appeal to with your branded messages and experiences in order to get the best results. That's the topic of Part 4 of the Building Brand Emotion series which is coming up next. If you missed earlier parts of the series, you can follow the links below to read them now:

Image: stock.xchng, Flickr

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