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Your brain on brands

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By Christine Nelson

The truth about why people buy

Customers don’t buy with logic alone. They will first test their interest in your product or service with feelings. Do they “like” you, have a sense of safety and view you as an ally?

When their emotional vibes are satisfied, customers will then move on to phase two: logical decision-making. If you set off their negative emotional alarm bells for any reason, they won’t move to phase two, and you’ve lost the sale.
To appeal to the emotional side of any buyer, try these positive strategies to tip the scales in your favor.

Say it with color. You can get many different reactions from the same color.

“I don’t like blue.”
“I LOVE blue! Use more blue!”
“Blue is so boring. Can you jazz it up a bit?”
“That blue is so exciting!”
“Gross.”

When you’re developing or refreshing your brand, use color the way your customers may already perceive it. You can also pair up colors for a broader emotional response. If you pair blue with a bright green or orange, you develop a more contemporary palette of energy, excitement and youthfulness. Join blue with brown or gray to create feelings of calmness, power and reliability. Design several different combinations to test reactions with focus groups and key decision makers.

A picture tells a better story. Imagine two print ads. In one ad, a group photo shows smiling accountants standing outside of their building. In another ad, an accountant is wearing fishing gear. Which ad is more memorable?

Companies miss an opportunity when they go with the same tired visuals because people process visual information up to seven times faster than words. Design creates a layer of story. Great design combined with the professional style and presence of your people is a winning combination.

Design includes your fonts, colors, logo glyph, photos, paper and the other visual elements on your business cards, sales kits, video and website. It should be welcoming, easy to navigate and help customers find you and want to interact with you.

Most people also know good style when they see it. Shoes, fabrics and impeccable grooming create a distinct first impression. But it’s also the body posture, facial expression and tone of voice that attracts notice.

Perception is reality. Good design and superb style quietly build trust without saying a word.

Words still count. Take a cue from the emoji culture. Use fewer words. Increase meaning. When you hear fat words like “quality,” “service,” “trust” and “unique,” it’s like the trombone sound in a Peanuts movie.

Take more time to explain the experience of your company. Is it like violins, or like a chain saw? After choosing your company, do people feel taller? Richer? Do they want to adopt a dog? Run a marathon?

Companies that succeed know how to create messages that engage emotion with logic. Invest in quality writing for your brand messages, your website and your publicity. Invest in people who win awards for the right words.

Show customers you ‘get’ them. We want to hang out with people who are like us. Tribes of people tend to dress alike, have similar vocal inflections and share the same interests. When you find the right demographic or type of customer, think about how to attract more of them.

Develop descriptions of your ideal customer. Age ranges, gender, culture, professional titles, salaries, locations … add as many details as you can to paint a full picture of your customer. You will understand how to market and sell by knowing how customers think and where they gather information to make buying decisions.

When potential buyers feel like you cater just to them, they will buy. They may even spend a little more or be willing to wait longer. Don’t underestimate the power of emotion in your branding. Emotional appeal is the true reason people choose your product or service over that of a competitor.

LEA_photo-christinenelson-standingChristine Nelson is a lead communications consultant for Ingenuity, a brand strategy firm that focuses on marketing, websites, sales messaging, social media and public relations to boost your competitive edge. Contact her at Christine@ingenuitymarketing.com or (651) 690-3358, www.ingenuitymarketing.com.