Emotionally resonant brand communication has risen to the forefront of requisite skills for engaging the modern consumer. Over the past few years, the COVID-19 pandemic, a contentious election season in the US, and recent geopolitical strife have pushed America’s mental health crisis to a new level. In the deepest pits of the COVID pandemic, Mental Health America (MHA) reported a 93% increase from 2019 to 2020 in people seeking anxiety screening. Anxiety, it seems, has become a defining characteristic of the modern American.
While vaccine rollouts continue and cases drop, the mental health impact of the COVID pandemic will be felt for years, if not decades. Adding fuel to that fire, mental health issues were here before COVID, and they’ll be here long after. In fact, the 2022 State of Mental Health in America confirmed that mental health issues were already steadily climbing prior to the pandemic.
In an age where consumers are humming at an almost constant state of some form of anxiety, how can brands better meet consumer needs and expectations? Now, more than ever, brands need to dig deeper to create a meaningful connection with consumers.
Emotionally Resonant Brand Communication Isn’t New, It’s Just More Critical
In a study, How Customers Think, Feel, and Act: The Paradigm of Business Outcomes, advisory and research group Forrester identified that feeling is 1.5x stronger in influencing customer buying decisions and loyalty – more than any other factor measured in the study. The 2019 study clearly illustrated the connection between emotional resonance and brand loyalty – customers who feel a stronger emotional connection to a brand are significantly more loyal. It seems like a simple concept, but why haven’t more brands been able to capitalize on this connection?
Part of it is simply understanding. Over time, considerable investments have been made into data collection and analysis with a primary goal of understanding consumer behavior and formulating strategies and tactics that create better engagement through that understanding. Unfortunately, in spite of all things we are able to understand about consumers – age, location, preferences, shopping habits, etc. – we’re still looking for the why behind purchasing decisions.
Big Data, Small Data, and Everything In Between
Better understanding of customers is the first step to creating emotional resonant brand communications. While investments in big data have paid off in terms of better understanding consumers, data and analytics won’t be the only answer. If understanding your customers is painting a picture, big data is the canvas – it gives you the framework and the observable universe that is your customer – but you’ll still need the brush and the paint to realize the full picture.
Emotionally resonant brand communication will be born from a combination of big data, small data, and direct customer interaction. Small data, typically understood as data small enough for humans to access, comprehend, and act on, can consist of myriad sources and is largely transactional. As data privacy regulations continue to grow and consumers maintain weariness around data collection, small data is becoming an increasingly important tool for marketers in understanding their consumers. Compounding that, many of the conditions and assumptions of big data that rely on pre-COVID circumstances have been all but completely disrupted, making way for more value from small data.
Data collection tools and methodologies have rapidly sophisticated in the market but tried-and-true exercises for understanding the voice of the customer will continue to play a significant role, particularly when complemented by advanced data and analytics practices. Focus groups, direct customer interaction, and feedback loops with customer-facing representatives can help to create a more holistic picture of the at-times-mercurial nature of consumer behavior. With this better understanding, brands can more effectively understand the emotional inputs that are driving consumer behavior in order to create more emotionally resonant brand communication strategies.
Moving Forward with Emotionally Resonant Brand Communication
Many businesses have invested over time in understanding how their consumers make decisions – through which channel they made a purchase, where they engaged with the brand before purchase, etc. – but in our modern times, understanding the why is essential to remain competitive and create emotionally resonant brand communication that drives action and engagement from consumers.
To learn more about how Clarkston supports businesses in the life sciences, consumer products, and retail industries in understanding and acting on consumer behavior through voice of the customer exercises, data, and analytics, contact us today.