The way you make me feel, and the brands we love

The fundamental driver of brand value today, comes back to one simple principle, customers know ‘how they spend money, creates the world around them’. They just don’t want to get their needs met, they want to connect to a purpose greater than themselves.

Brands that reign supreme today, are brands that build emotional connections and increasingly connect their customers to a purpose greater than themselves.

An emotional connection means I feel felt, your brand mirrors the way I feel about myself, and my purpose in the world.

There are many ways a brand builds emotional connections and value, and I have distilled them down to 6 tenets.

Here are the Hearts and Minds, 6 Tenets to Create a Leading Brand:

1. Make a transformative promise

The value behind a brand’s promise is about taking a customer closer to their ideal self. In order to be valuable, a brand needs to understand who a customer wants to be and their role in the customer’s personal transformation. Our needs tell us what is required to become our ideal self, and each need can have both a tangible  and an emotional dimension. Research into customer needs will ensure your brand has a compelling transformative promise.

2. Connect your customer to a purpose greater than themselves

Take Fair Trade, the recognition of FairTrade and its principles in Australia has risen from 28% in 2009 to 37% in 2010 and 44% in 2011. It is the most widely recognised ethical label in the world. Research says, 93% of Australians want to ensure farmers and workers are paid ethically, recognizing their choice of brands can contribute to the reduction in global poverty. Smart brands like Conscious Chocolate and Gideon Shoes are giving customers a line of sight into their supply chain and the social and environmental credentials of the way they do business.

3. Be an agent of positive change

Increasingly customers are expecting brands to be agents of change, bringing new more enlightened behaviours into the community and changing social norms. Those brands that positively affect social change, command a significant place on the world stage. IBM’s Smarter Planet captures clients who share the vision that innovation can empower us to live more harmoniously with our planet. Jamie Oliver is a personal brand that used his social energy to transform the school lunches in the UK, making a significant contribution to the health of British youth.

4. Make your customers co creators of your brand

Brands that engage the creative energy of their customers are brands that keep relevant and tap into social networks to build awareness. Advertising is no longer a passive, one to many proposition, but a many to many act of creation. Take for instance, the “one crazy day” customer co creation campaign of Zip Car. The campaign drove their customers to Facebook where together they brainstormed 1,000 ideas for a commedian to do in one day, in a Zip Car. The Crazy Day would produce a series of social media posts, which co creators would be sure to send viral.

5. Design and manage experiences, “the feeling of what happens”

Conscious Chocolate got is right when they made the association of eating chocolate and feeling love. Chocolate lights up the same part of the brain as romantic love. To make the emotional connection between eating chocolate and love, Conscious Chocolate created a many faces of love video. Positive experiences of brands become positive emotional resources that keep us feeling open, creative and optimistic, and ultimately bringing us back for more.

6. Walk the talk of your customer promise

Culture creates the internal resources that allow the employees to walk the talk of the customer promise. It is a behaviour and commitment, not just lip service. Take Google’s 80/20 culture which allows employees to spend 20% of their time on projects of their own choosing. By leaving a creative space for each employee to make  their own mark on the company, Google achieve amazing breakthroughs in both productivity and employee engagement. It makes creativity a living breathing brand attribute, integrated into the psyche of its employees.


Louise Kelly

Managing Director

Hearts and Minds

Founder Thought Leaders Circle

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