Targeting can be a complex science, particularly when you have a product with many segments and gatekeepers, each with different need states. This is where the true value of emotional branding becomes evident. It gives the ability to appeal to a common response, even with variations in messaging tactics across all segments, and to build higher levels of trust and loyalty overtime. Both of these effects in turn help overcome targeting complexities, inform decision making, streamline processes, and ultimately drive growth.
The most compelling product positionings and communications are those that make their buyers feel they are being seen and spoken to as an individual. This can seem an impossible task at first: each user has a different set of needs, preferences and reactions based on their own unique experiences. The good news is that the reactions of a whole population to a product or message often follow a common emotional theme. Speaking to this common experience allows us to identify the thread that ties complex segments together, whether it’s trust, hope, joy or groundedness. By finding an emotional common ground that works for our brand, and pushing targeted communications toward it, we can create a consistent brand experience while also appealing to individuals on a personal level.
Understanding the emotional needs of your customers is vital to ensure messaging is received correctly. The right message, at the wrong time, in the wrong tone or to the wrong audience, can be catastrophic for a brand. While you may know what your customer is looking for, such as low side effects, you need to understand why. Is it because they are a busy parent and don’t have time to be held back by side effects? Or is it because side effects scare them and make them feel as though the treatment isn’t working? The tone and delivery of the same message would be entirely different in these two cases, and getting it wrong could completely alienate your target.
The choices made by gatekeepers (e.g. HCPs or parents) can carry with them the potential for life or death to their dependents. They will explore all rationales to make the right choice, but in fact the decision is still deeply emotional, if only to the deep feelings of attachment and responsibility. A trusted brand that they feel personally connected to helps users feel that a level of risk has been mitigated before they even assess the rational claims.
As an example, Dove’s emotional imprint as a “nurturing brand” is iconic. Years of communications supporting women in their most natural state and uplifting girls has created a lasting shared impression that the organization cares for the individual beyond the transactional relationship. This sense of trust and empowerment perfectly positioned them to release ‘Baby Dove’, and ‘Dove for Kids’. Parents that had associations of gentleness, nurturing and empowerment for the brand immediately transferred those associations to these new products, thus winning over gatekeepers through emotional branding.
In our experience, trust is paramount for HCPs when it comes to new drugs. We have seen evidence of HCPs rejecting products with more favorable clinical trials. Why? Because the trust they have built with one drug (that does a good enough job) over the years far outweighs puts in sharp perspective the risk of jumping to a new brand. Emotional branding becomes imperative here to gain the edge. In any field where customers have already built emotional bonds with certain brands, rational claims are rarely enough to win.
In order to ensure your targeting feels personal while maintaining rational coherence across indications and brands, the emotional state of your customers must be identified as the string that ties everything together. Building this relationship with your audiences can translate into future-proof loyalty to your product, your brand, and your company.