The Story of Loving

Telling stories for your product or service has gained in popularity over the last few years, and with good reason. In our personal lives…we tell stories. Out with friends…we tell stories. What is that doing for us? Its building relationships and engagement.

In its simplest form Branding is a communications tool. When you talk about branding your business, what you are doing is communicating your story to your target audience. To give you an example…allow me to tell you a story…

…As I stood in my kitchen making a cup of my favourite herbal tea, I noticed something new had appeared on the packaging…their brand story. What I found interesting was, firstly I had time to read it because I was waiting for the kettle to boil, so my environment was important in getting their message to me. Secondly in reading between the lines I thought that they possibly encountered their target buyers saying things like ‘oh that’s not an irish product’ so they decided to tell their story and their Irish connection. By doing this not only are they overcoming any resistance to it being Irish or not, they are enabling the product journey to be more human (you’ve just been introduced to the founders), and tactile, therefore giving the brand an emotional attachment.

Why is an Emotional Attachment so Important?

When we like something or someone, we approach. If we don’t like it/her/him we avoid it/her/him. That is natural human behaviour.

Your product or service is your ‘baby’, its something you have invested plenty of emotional energy into, as well as hard work and financial investment, so you want your audience to like it, and approach it. The first step in getting your audience to like you is to get attention.

Attention is the key to other mental events occurring, like thinking, feeling, remembering and making decisions. One of the strongest ways to gain attention is to use an emotional trigger, because we are all human and we work with our emotions all the time. An emotional trigger takes you somewhere that means something to you, and evokes a memory or a feeling. Like the smell in a bakery of fresh bread baking, or you order a dessert in a restaurant because it was your Dad’s favourite. You then attach that memory or feeling subconsciously to the brand you are experiencing at the time. Another important fact here is that your subconscious mind is making a decision for you about this brand, 5 seconds before you become conscious of it.

Information enters consciousness either because it is our intention to focus our attention on it or because our attention is commanded due to perceived emotional, biological, or social needs (Csikszentmihalyi, 1990)

But Negative Emotions are Stronger

But you don’t want your audience to just like your product or service, you want them to love it!! Then your priority is to drive emotional engagement, and the stronger the emotional engagement, the more likely that your audience will remember you, and connect with you. But one thing we should remember is that negative emotional experiences are stronger than positive ones. That might sound strange, but how often do you hear people complaining about a product or service in comparison to how often you hear someone praising it, willingly and freely.

That said, sometimes negative emotions could work to your advantage. Having attended Offset recently, a conference for designers and advertisers, I listened to a presentation from Chemistry, an advertising agency in Dublin, responsible for the Ladyball campaign and the Cancer campaign on behalf of the Irish Cancer Society. Coming from a family that are very involved in the GAA we were appalled at the Ladyball release, the football team were enraged by it, how dare they belittle us!! It was the talk of the sidelines. But a couple of days later when the real campaign came out for Lidl, all was forgiven, and we knew how supportive of Ladies Football Lidl were. And those that knew nothing much about Ladies Football had any cliches in their heads demolished as they were shown the true grit through the emotional triggers in the advert – the sister in the crowd willing her sister on the pitch to get back up and fight. So whether you were involved or not, Lidl was demanding the attention and being attached to the love and support of the sisters. This example shows the creative genius of Chemistry in understanding human behaviour and using it to advantage for their clients.

What to take from this is that our aim is to demand the attention, at the right time, from the right people, and drive emotional engagement, because emotional engagement drives feelings, and effects our memory and commitment.

So next time you go ‘Ah look’ or ‘Oh yeah’ or ‘What the…’ just stop and think what is driving this reaction.