Let’s start with the basics: we are what we feel. With apologies to the Beatles, all we need is not love, but without it, what’s the point of relationships? Buying is an act of love with brands, because you choose that one over all others. In the world we live in, few brands reciprocate the love of their customers. But those that do are clearly growing in every way.

For many years the “like” has been the thermometer of influence in social networks. However, the social world that is growing every day in the online world is no longer satisfied with liking. Liking is incomplete, it is imperfect, it is a romance with no future. People need love. Because love is commitment, it is surrender, it is five senses, love is the gasoline of the engine of life. And as life is about emotions, the relationship between brands and people begins to evolve from the incompleteness of “like” to the fullness of “love”.

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Sometimes we buy, sometimes we consume, but we always feel.

Emotions drive buying decisions, not logic. We buy without logic. Emotions prevail, the universe of intangibles that materializes in feelings. The consulting firm Forrester corroborated that emotions are an essential element of the consumer experience that brands must address to establish meaningful connections. Consumers’ emotions have a significant impact on their behavior.

I was recently asked “How much emotion and how much truth is there in Branding?” To which I replied, “Emotions are truth. You can’t lie with emotions. When you love, you love. When you are sad, you are sad. When you are happy, you are happy. Emotion is part of truth and truth is part of emotion. Now, connecting emotionally with people, for brands, is the great challenge ahead of them”.

Our life is the sum of what we feel. From the moment we wake up until we go to sleep, and even in dreams. The mind allows us to remember those perceptions that are able to connect emotionally with us. The essential, which remains invisible to the eye, connects with people. The same happens to us with those brands that manage to move and surprise us, those that make our lives easier or happier. We are living in a fast, accelerated world, in which we feel that the soul is splitting from the body at such a speed. Precisely because of this, feeling is beginning (or rather: is becoming again) a scarce commodity.

“We are not naturally rational. We have the possibility of being rational but through a tremendous personal effort and thanks to a social and cultural context that contributes to make it possible. We are slaves to our emotions and our environment. Being rational is possible if we control negative emotions and enhance positive ones,” confirms neurologist and professor António Damásio.

Consumers need to receive stimuli that are able to circumvent this routine and complex reality, so for brands to excite and connect becomes of paramount importance.

While most consumers may still think they make decisions based on reason, very often these are powerfully influenced by subconscious emotional factors that they ignore. According to Forrester’s research, emotions have a big impact on how consumers perceive their interactions with brands. Brands can establish lasting connections with consumers by using experiences to create positive emotions..

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We experience positively, then we fall in love.

If we are what we feel, the emotional connection between a brand and a consumer is as essential as a smartphone battery. Creating -more- positive experiences, and maximizing them can forge lasting relationships; allowing them to reach those emotions.

Forrester analyst Anjali Lai lifted the curtain of doubt from the emotional stage: “There is a lot of research in various disciplines that shows that humans are not as logical as we would like to think. We see ourselves as rational decision makers, but that’s only because we’re not even aware of how emotion drives our behavior.” Let’s repeat it one more time: “we’re not even aware of how emotion drives our behavior.”

Emotion is often the primary factor that influences customer loyalty. Emotion is often the most powerful force that makes customers stay, multiply and become brand evangelists. Emotion is the most powerful force for the customer to not only know that brand but above all to feel it.

Emotional impact is not enough. It must be positive. The nuance is very important because today many brands have an emotional impact on customers, but usually in a negative way. Brands must assume that the construction of the experience is born from a defined strategy, from a clear positioning, it is born from aligning all the people who interact with the customer, in the consistency of the same in all channels. And to stand out, in addition, generate inimitable proposals.

Overall we could mention three main aspects that can be used to make experiences as meaningful as possible for the consumer.

First, brands should try to connect with the customer/consumer on a personal level. We have been mentioning for years the trend of the one-to-one connection. Every customer is your everything.

Second, brands should emphasize the moments that are naturally the most exciting for consumers.

It has been shown that there are certain key moments that are especially exciting for consumers, particularly the completion of an experience. Consumers are more likely to remember interactions that occur at the end of an experience than the experience as a whole.

Nowadays brands pay more attention to the welcome than the farewell and the customer journey doesn’t end.

(Reminder: It is necessary to remember that human beings are more sensitive to negative experiences than to positive ones. Consumers are more likely to notice negative experiences and experience stronger emotions about them. The emotion that most ignites people on social media is anger. Angering a customer is not recommended. As a result, it is currently more beneficial for a brand to strive to minimize negative experiences than to introduce potentially positive experiences. Consumers are very sensitive, and a bad interaction can affect their perception of the brand for many years to come. But, obviously, the ideal is to generate positive experiences. But the vast majority of brands in most industries have not become aware of how poorly they serve their customers).

Third, brands can control the environment to enhance the sentimental value and context in which consumers are in contact with the product or service. Interactions may be less important than how they are conducted. For example, a brand can communicate unwanted news in a thoughtful and sensitive way that consumers appreciate. Customers are people, they are not numbers, they are not an income statement, they are not data, they are emotion.

If brands knew how good business it is to serve their customers well, they would do it if only for business.

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Love is everywhere.

Most brands mistakenly invest much more money in attracting new customers than in the loyalty (retention) of the ones they already have. It is likely that most of the brands I interact with have not realized that attracting a new customer costs up to 10 times more than keeping an existing one. I have serious doubts that brands have learned how to deal with their customers. When I talk about the brand having to embrace the customer, to listen to them, to satisfy and resolve the issues they raise, I simply believe that brands have to take this on board. The most successful brands are the ones that bring the opportunity of a better world, a simpler life… Those that have understood that are more successful than those that haven’t.

Love is all clients need.

About 4 years ago the trend for brands was to evolve from “like” to “buy”, that is, that people’s time with the brand should not be understood only as a pampering for the brand’s ego, but to transform that “like” into a “buy”. Since then, the exponential growth of new technologies has allowed brands to assume that digital tools are very efficient, as well as effective, to build brand, share stories and generate sales.

Nowadays customers need brands to understand them, pamper them, take care of them, customers are looking for love from brands and many brands don’t reciprocate. And although deep down, if you analyze it coldly, those who should seek love are the brands and not the other way around, this is what happens. And it happens that many brands instead of looking for customers to love, should seek to love their customers. It is much more profitable to take care of existing customers than to look for new ones… The ideal formula “like” – “buy” – “love” is an inexorable cycle that can only lead brands to desired territories.

Total, immersive, integral experience.

Brands must also understand that in the relationship with the customer in the Digital Age, good is no longer good enough. Good is already a commodity, it’s the minimum to be expected, but people already crave excellent. Brands looking to improve customer experiences must understand the emotions that influence these interactions. Not just understand how the customer acts or thinks, but how they feel. As technology redefines the meaning of “connect,” brands will need to understand the factors that drive successful customer experiences. Above all, assume that customer experience is not a science, but rather an attitude.

Understanding and embracing how complex and challenging it is to compete in this digital age, companies that invest in building great customer relationships will undoubtedly grow.

Digital is a new (not so new) territory. A bigger stage, more widespread, less controlled, but with a power never seen before. That’s why digital can be used more and more to improve relationships and help brands to establish better connections with consumers, to help humanize relationships. While the market continues to evolve and surprise us with changes beyond new sales channels, customer knowledge, data, crm, personalization and one-to-one management. In addition, new channels, new tools and interaction platforms are emerging or being promoted today, which were not even envisioned two decades ago in the most daring dreams. The main one: the Internet, which will undoubtedly become the channel par excellence for commercial relations and which is rapidly assimilating this concept. A new space, which does not come to replace the offline, simply to complement it, retro-feeding it. We must stop seeing the Internet as the enemy of offline. Internet is a reality that can only go further, transforming it into an ally is not optional but imperative.

A happy, satisfied, grateful consumer is a great ambassador for a brand. Therefore, for brands it is not only strategic but also necessary to continue to deepen this path. Rational decisions have not gone out of fashion, but nowadays, aiming at the consumer’s feelings, with the clear objective of forging close ties with the brand is a formula that is more than recommendable.

And we return once again to the essence: above all else, human emotions remain the only thing that cannot be automated. Providing a high-quality shopping experience requires knowledge of the consumer’s wants and needs. Centralizing consumer information and implementing systems that can recognize them across all channels will result in a more consistent, coherent, memorable and agile shopping process. Yes, and profitable too, of course.

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In the consumer’s life everything passes, experiences remain.

You don’t have to adapt to the future, you have to create it. Adapting is for losers. If everyone is following, who is leading? If everyone says they are adapting, who is creating the new? If the new disruptive models come from “outside” each industry, are industries going to change more or less? And why isn’t the disruption coming from within? Why is Uber coming to change urban transport, Airbnb the hospitality industry or Tesla the automotive industry? They are all outsiders, can’t disruption come from within? Are we going to keep talking about technology or are we going to start talking about people, values, conscience, responsibility, promises? There is a whole world in full evolution, in which the new has not finished being born and the old has not finished dying. The great challenge for brands and for everyone is that the world in which we do not get involved will be built by others. Branding has to do with this place in society that was left vacant and that brands are occupying. We have to get involved, we have to commit ourselves.

This concept of brand experience can be applied to the “traditional” retail system, which has a physical space where the consumer goes. It ranges from shopping malls to city centre stores, from airports to train stations, from museums to galleries, from the coffee shop to the trendy restaurant, from the supermarket to the traditional marketplace. Everything affects our experience. Is your brand an experience? Human beings are very similar and at the same time very unique. They have common behavioural and personality traits, but at the same time each one is unique and unrepeatable as a consequence of the singular development process of the person. The great challenge for brands is to learn to love their customers, to transform what has been routine into positive feelings and emotions. How you make people feel is part of your brand. In the end, the person who chooses you is made of experiences, emotions, passions, dreams and hopes. It’s made of love. Not that the Beatles weren’t right, but almost.

 

 

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