You don’t need advertisements.
You need acts that create emotional connections.
Simple, inclusive, accessible, relevant and human encounters that change the momentary experience of engaging with your brand.
Whether you have a website, corporation, charity, membership organization or spiritual community, consider incorporating these twelve into your branding efforts:
Create an act of forgiveness in a moment of imperfection. Next time someone steps on your toe, bumps into your table or accidentally runs into you, try this: As soon as they start apologizing furiously like they’ve just committed a mortal sin, look them straight in the eye, smile and say, “I forgive you.” I do this every day of my life and it never fails to change the energy of the encounter. Especially in our hypersensitive, litigious, eggshell walking culture where people freak out at every minor inconvenience, the world desperately needs moments like this. Is forgiveness something your brand expresses or just implies?
Create an act of refuge in a moment of chaos. People are busy. Crazybusy. But if you can give them a home, a safe haven, a sanctuary of peace and harbor of relaxation – even if only for a moment during their hectic day – they will thank you will their attention, their trust and their money. Think about your local coffee shop. Whether it’s a big chain or a mom and pop operation, this is their moment of choice. And it’s more addictive than the caffeine in the coffee or the sugar in the scones. How are you helping customers redefine their version of home?
Create an act of relief in a moment of pressure. Collection plates make people nervous. Especially first timers. And that’s a challenge for any congregation: How do you approach the donation process in a way that’s non-threatening, non-alienating, but still profitable? I’m reminded of the time I went to church with my friend Marcie. When the ushers came around with the big gold bowls, the pastor said something that stuck in my head: “If this is your first time, we invite you not to participate financially.” There was a noticeable exhale in the room. How are you making the solicitation process more relaxing?
Create an act of spirit in a moment of struggle. The first time I took hot yoga, I thought I was going to pass out. When I finally couldn’t take it anymore, I plopped down on the mat, grabbed my water and sat in a puddle of sweat like dead weight. But instead of embarrassing me in front of the class, my instructor gently remarked, “Thank you for listening to your body.” I felt better immediately. Her response was gracious, complimentary and respectful. And she responded to my struggle without judgment, evaluation or criticism. Are you frustrated and judgmental or fascinated and thankful?
Create an act of humanity in a moment of technology. Face to face is making a comeback. Any time you can touch people’s skin, look them straight in the eye and taking to them with your mouth, you win. The question is: How much of your brand is done by hand? That’s what customers crave. That’s what customers come back for. Spontaneous moments of authentic human interaction. Instead of outsourcing the human function, do more in person. Do more by hand. People will notice. How do you interact with people in a way that no other brand can touch?
Create an act of devotion in a moment of disloyalty. My company makes brandtags, or corporate identity collages. Here’s how they work: First, I distill my client’s mission down to its essence. Next, customized, limited edition art pieces are hand-carved on wood, signed, numbered and framed. Then, clients give brandtags as gifts to their longtime partners. And as a result, the artifacts deepen the roots of their relationship. They erase the memory of any gift that came before. How are you making your partners ultra aware of you commitment to them?
Create an act of artistry in a moment of apathy. When you go out of your way to make the mundane memorable, you convert rare into remarkable. And that’s when you create a significant emotional event that tugs people by the heart. I’m reminded of my favorite coffee shop, The Mud House. Every time you order a latté, the owner will turn your foam into a work of art. From famous portraits to pretty flowers to inspirational messages, there isn’t a cup of coffee in that store that isn’t photographed. What’s your unique way of rewarding customers for engaging with your brand?
Create an act of play in a moment of vulnerability. My photographer is amazing. Not just because of his technical prowess, but also because he has a great eye for authenticity. And when I asked Bill how he draws that out, here’s what he suggested: “Make the subject laugh, and you’ll never fail to get their real smile.” That’s the best part about doing photo shoots with him: We just tell jokes the whole time. It’s refreshingly playful. And the final prints always come out beautifully. When is the feeling of formality preventing your customers from being their true self?
Create an act of recognition in a moment of anonymity. I’ve taken yoga classes all over the world. And one of the challenges of being a first time student is, you don’t just feel vulnerable – you feel invisible. Especially in large classes. But over the years I’ve visited studios that mitigated this fear. In Los Angeles, they write your name on a dry erase board that says, “Welcome New Students!” In Sydney, they give a round of applause at the end of class for all the first timers. And in Tokyo, they offer personalized, handwritten thank-you notes to new people on their way out the door. How do you make your people feel seen?
Create an act of education in a moment of insecurity. The more your customers learn, the more profit you earn. The more your customers know, the more your business grows. And the more your customers understand, the more powerful your brand. Like my client, Sendouts. They don’t just provide software for the recruiting industry – they provide brainware. By combining digital publishing platforms, annual user conferences and a dozen other teaching moments, their customers are some of the smartest in the industry. Are you offering better job performance or better life performance?
REMEMBER: Good brands are bought – great brands are joined.
If you want people to buy your brand, create advertisements.
But if you want people to join your brand, create acts of emotional connection.