The importance of emotional brand measures

Here’s a quote: “If you don’t have a handle on the emotional side of engagement with your brand, you might as well spend your marketing budget on coupons.” Don't believe that? This year, in a study of nearly 600 products and services, Brand Keys found that many of those products and services, which consumers once though of as ‘brands’ are now regarded as comparable in all key attributes that drive purchase.

This commodification of brands showed up in a lot of categories, mostly CPG, where the importance of emotional brand value has decreased significantly or disappeared entirely. Product evaluations by the brands’ own customers were found to be statistically identical, meaning the products were essentially seen to be interchangeable.

Advertising and promotion can help drive consumer behavior, of course, but no matter how entertaining the ad, it’s extraordinarily less powerful than being able to leverage emotional aspects of the products themselves. If all your brand stands for is ‘shampoo,’ it’s a ‘placeholder,’ a name people know but don’t know for anything outside the category and so it has absolutely no (brand) advantage in the marketplace.

Along those lines, it was reported yesterday that P&G indicated that profits would fall more than anticipated, and share price was down as much as 6%, as analysts asked why the company hasn't posted better sales growth after more than a year into its promised turnaround.

That, of course was Wall Street talking. But if you had talked to Main Street (the way we did – via emotionally-based engagement metrics) we could have told them you don’t build your brand or your market share on constant low-lower-lowest pricing strategies, on-going promotions, and an empty promise of innovation, and expect your offering to be seen as different or better than the competition – who’s doing precisely the same thing.

There was a time mid-last century when the brand engagement ratio that drove sales was more rational than emotional. But as brands are now finding out – some to their advantage, many to their detriment – it just doesn’t work that way anymore.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Robert Passikoff

Robert Passikoff is founder and president of Brand Keys, Inc, with 35 years of agency and client experience in all phases of strategic brand planning for B2B and B2C product and service categories.

He pioneered work in loyalty and engagement, creating the Brand Keys Customer Loyalty Engagement Index®, the Brandweek Loyalty Leaders List, the Sports Fan Loyalty Index®, and the Women's Wear Daily Fashion Brand Engagement Index®.

His first best-selling book, Predicting Market Success, provides marketers a 21st century perspective on predictive loyalty metrics. His newest book (co-authored with Brand Keys' EVP of global brand development, Amy Shea) The Certainty Principle: How to Guarantee Brand Profits in the Consumer Engagement Marketplace provides companies with a predictive approach to brand differentiation.

His company has developed research and brand positioning programs for such diverse clients as ABC Television, Ann Taylor, Sears, Best Buy, KeySpan Energy, Citibank, Samsung, Burger King, Cablevision, First USA, Toyota, American Express, AVIS, The NFL, L'Oreal, Apple, Shell Oil, Discover Financial, Neutrogena, OfficeMax, Points of Light Foundation, The New York Times, Eventive Marketing, Hakuhodo, Sunoco, The Body Shop, Liz Caliborne, Kellogg's, Wrigley, Wyeth Pharmaceuticals, XM Satellite Radio, MTV, and The Wall Street Journal office Network.

http://www.brandkeys.com