At the risk of labeling myself a musical novice, I have to admit that I am rarely moved by a piece of music the first time I encounter it. I need to hear it a few times, get familiar with it. Over time, some music can evoke a pleasant feeling of general nostalgia. Other pieces become associated with specific memories. So, although the initial experience may not have affected me at all, over time that same music could have the power to generate a genuine emotional connection. It strikes me that there is a similarity here with the brand experience.
Brand Consistency Builds Familiarity
Like my experience with music, brand impact requires repetition. You have to encounter a brand numerous times before it begins to make an impression. Brand consistency is of utmost importance. In order for a brand to build familiarity with people, the imagery and messaging must be consistent across all marketing channels. In addition, communication from local sales channels – branches, franchises, partners - must align with national-level marketing.
Nostalgia Taps Emotions
Just as certain songs can take you back in time, brands can evoke general positive feelings of the past. Marketers often use nostalgia as strategy to connect with customers. In a recent Direct Marketing News article, Jeanette McMurty explained that marketing which effectively leverages nostalgia, “create[s] feelings of happiness, connection, and self-fulfillment; and people unconsciously associate those happy feelings with your brand.”
Experience Builds Brand Connections
Building on the musical analogy, a brand connection becomes even stronger when it is associated with a specific positive memory. For example, when the detergent saved the clothes that you thought were ruined, or the insurance agent helped you put your life back together after a tragedy, or the consultant solved a challenge that had been inhibiting your business. When positive experiences are linked to a brand, the brand has the potential to elicit a strong emotional connection.
Interruptive Marketing Generates Annoyance
Of course, we have all had the experience of being overexposed to a particular song. At some point, the tune gets stuck in your head, interrupting your thoughts. So too brands can cross the line and intrude on those they are trying to attract. How many emails do you really need from the same brand in one week? How long is that remarketed ad going to follow you around the Internet? Irrelevant messaging, poor placement or high frequency drives brand annoyance rather than connection.
Like music, brands have the potential to stir the emotions of their audience. Through consistent repetition, brands build familiarity. Familiarity becomes the foundation for strong emotional connection which results from positive brand experiences.
Which brands do you think are most effective at connecting with their audiences?