By Jennifer Lux
At the intersection of psychology and marketing is true brand experience. It’s the collection of micro-moments, defined by Google as “intent-driven moments of decision-making and preference-shaping that occur throughout the entire consumer journey” and it’s in those micro-moments that a brand is cultivated, evaluated, and ultimately experienced by its target market.
A recent study by Meaningful Brands found that most people wouldn’t care if 74 percent of brands they use every day disappeared. How does the psychology of your brand’s experience make it stand out in a crowded digital marketplace, nurture the relationship with your target customers, and create meaningful connections?
I’m a firm believer that that there is very little difference between consumer and business marketing. Sure, the sales cycles and complexity of decision-making are different. However, in the end, the psychology is the same. And here, we’ll dive into just what that psychology includes.
Think about a brand you love. For me, it’s Patagonia. Living in Colorado, I have endless choices for outdoor apparel available, but Patagonia nails brand engagement by creating brand trust. One hundred percent of its apparel is returnable, repairable, and therefore built to last a lifetime. This has always been its approach to its products, and it creates immediate trust. The question is, how can you replicate this for your B2B brand?
Maybe it’s a satisfaction guarantee, or maybe you structure your product or service so that clients only pay for results. Whatever it is that builds brand trust even before a purchase is made supports the psychology of a memorable brand experience. People want to engage with reliable products and services that deliver on their promise. Create a sales process and a business model that bakes trust right into the brand recipe.
A recent study published in the Harvard Business Review also confirms this very dynamic: “Consumer behavior research suggests that trust is essential to forming an intention to purchase.” The study dives deeper into the role trust plays in relation to the risk of purchase. The study found that when faced with zero-risk decisions, logical and rational thinking processes were predominant. Whereas, when faced with a riskier decision, such as those that could affect the success of an entire business, intuition and other peripheral processes came into play.
Educate Like You Really Care
The Meaningful Brands 2017 Study found a 71 percent correlation between content effectiveness and the impact a brand has on our personal well-being and quality of life. Inbound marketing is changing along with the psychology of the buyer. Memorable brand experiences aren’t happening behind an internet form anymore. More brands are giving away exceptional, free, educational content and asking for nothing in return with the hopes that the content will be compelling enough to begin creating brand allegiance. This is yet another way to build brand trust—give something away before asking for something in return. With this approach, brands appear generous and position themselves as influential thought leaders faster as they can reach a wider, broader audience with ungated formats. Use blog articles, guides, pillar pages, infographics, and more to position your brand as the top thought leader and most trusted source of insight for your industry.
Brands that use storytelling and video to relate to their buyers tap into the important neuropsychology of mirror neurons. A mirror neuron is a type of brain cell that responds equally when we perform an action and when we witness someone else perform the same action. Therefore, when you see an image like the one below, you might feel anxiety, excitement, or fear in your body, just as if you were experiencing the same thing.
This is important to keep in mind as you leverage emotion to tell your brand story. Even the most boring software products might solve pain points for customers and evoke emotions of relief, which can be felt in a mirror neuron manner by prospective customers.
Neil Patel also confirms that social posts with more emotions get more shares. And more brand visibility on social media leads to increased credibility; traffic; and, ultimately, more new contact acquisition. Social proof is like brand peer pressure—a powerful, natural way to prove your product is the best on the market based on client credibility.
McKinsey reports top customer satisfaction insights in a recent article, and consistency was noted as the most powerful indicator of customer happiness. Having a consistent message across platforms and leveraging that in a repeatable way is key to creating a memorable brand experience. This concept is related to the Baader-Meinhof phenomenon, or the frequency illusion. You are most likely familiar with the automobile example. If you have considered buying a certain car, after you’ve done some research and maybe test-drove it, you feel like suddenly you see that car everywhere. This happens when something has recently come to your attention: The mind sees it at a higher frequency.
This translates to marketing as you serve content to your target market on several distinct channels but with the same, consistent messaging that coalesces into a reliable brand experience along the customer journey. Retargeting is successful because of this concept. Strategic, multi-channel marketing tactics have roots in this psychological concept. Beyond marketing, the need for consistency exists interdepartmentally as sales works with potential clients in a sales enablement capacity and shares branded collateral in the decision stage of the Buyer’s Journey. Public relations and even customer support channels should all have a consistent approach to the desired brand experience.
Know your audience, understand what keeps them up at night, and uncover what makes them want to share your brand with their closest friends. Create a vision that resonates far beyond product and service features and benefits. How does your brand promise tie into social responsibility, ethics, the environment, or personal values? These ties to greater ideals are what create a memorable brand experience.
Revisiting the Patagonia example, if you are familiar with this brand, you know that beyond creating exceptional products, its mission statement includes a plan to help preserve the health of the planet and protect public lands. At the heart of every outdoor enthusiast, there is a desire to do just this, and restating this collective mission on every Patagonia clothing tag and many marketing messages helps reinforce this shared commitment. The buyer feels that he or she is buying into a much bigger vision than just purchasing long-lasting clothing.
Neuromarketing is a powerful approach to brand engagement and a necessary component of remaining competitive in a saturated digital world. By considering the intersection of human psychology and marketing, we arrive at the ultimate approach to brand experience and, ultimately, brand loyalty.