Why More Brands Should Put Some Heart on Their Sleeves

Brands that tap into the emotional drivers of their audience have a definite advantage over their more rational, Spock-like competitors. We have seen proof of this time and again with brands that develop nearly identical products yet experience dramatically divergent success rates: Nike vs. Reebok, Dell vs. Apple and Red Bull vs. any other energy drink on the market. I also witnessed this firsthand while conducting competitive research on three major car manufacturers: Kia, Mazda and Volkswagen. I was interested in finding out how their social programs stacked up, expecting to see Mazda and Volkswagen take the lead. Instead I found the opposite.

All three competitors have social programs that span the usual suspects of social platforms (Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, blogs), they all run regular contests and sweepstakes and are all fairly engaged with their audience. But Kia was mentioned over three times as often as any other competitor and had far more on-platform engagement, despite having less than half of the reach of a brand like VW. Why? The reason appears to be that Kia was the only brand that did an effective job of tying their content strategy, contests and brand messaging to the emotions and motivations of their audience.

Kia’s brand attributes hinge on environmentalism and social responsibility. This resonates loud and clear throughout every piece of online content and contest. Social content that touches on these attributes, connecting with the emotions of their audience, receives the highest amounts of participation and engagement. Kia has managed to outshine their much larger, older and well-known competitors by understanding the emotional drivers of their audience (what makes them tick, what they care about) and then developing social and content strategies that align with these values. It’s not brain surgery but it can have a big impact on driving social engagement and relationships.

Are you currently planning content or social strategies? Are they aligned with the emotions and motivations of your audience? Please share your deepest hopes, dreams and feelings with us—it will be good for our blog, and your brand.


Photo Courtesy of Skate_AM12, PhotoBucket