Politicians, celebrities and sports stars have brands. Every company and organization has a brand. And, of course, everything we purchase has a brand. We think about each of these things in a particular way, and the way we think encourages or discourages real-world actions. If we like a politician, we may cast a vote for her. If we dislike a movie star, we may choose to skip his latest film. We may decide to give money to nonprofit organizations we approve of and avoid buying products from companies we disapprove of. But no matter what decisions we make, we are acting from a very limited amount of information — we don’t know much about the politicians we vote for and the nonprofits we donate to. Often, we make decisions based on feelings and beliefs rather than empirical data.
Some people think Apple computer makes products that are overpriced and overhyped, while others think it offers groundbreaking products that are worth every penny. The offering is exactly the same for everyone; each group just interprets the offering differently. But few people make Apple purchasing decisions based on a detailed analysis of the technology and a clear understanding of how that technology will be integrated into daily life. Apple understands this. They don’t just offer technology, they also offer expectations and feelings. Their website provides pages of technical information for those that want it, but they also provide videos, ads, in-store experiences and highly effective public relations that create feelings of desire.
The same will be true for your business — the brand you create will be compared to all the other brands in the marketplace, and this comparison will determine whether or not anyone does business with your company. In order to establish a strong brand in the minds of potential customers, you must develop certain feelings and beliefs that potential customers may use to generate expectations and rationalize a purchase.
Apple works very hard on this part of the brand. They host conferences several times a year and broadcast the keynote presentations. Their product launches frequently make the evening news on all the major networks. They’ve invested in hundreds of retail stores and trained sales associates to answer questions from novices and experts, making new customers feel more comfortable and secure. They carefully hone the appearance of both products and operating systems to make people believe that their products are easy to use. These efforts are all to create feelings that lead to purchasing decisions. It can be difficult to work on this part of a brand; it’s much easier to describe a product than to generate emotion. But much of our decision process is governed by feelings, and an effective brand cannot ignore emotional appeals.