Thinking about a master’s degree in business and marketing? Make sure your coursework includes emotional branding.

A diverse group of business professionals in a meeting.If salt is simply salt, than why do consumers pay up to 30% more for the Morton Salt brand? According to brand expert and author Daryl Travis, “We are irrationally patterned to our brand preferences ... driven by feelings, not facts.”* This is the premise behind emotional branding.

From campaign brainstorms to boardroom decisions, emotional branding starts with a simple question: “How does it make you feel?” Purchase decisions are driven by emotion as much as by intellect. In order to be effective, your brand must reach people’s hearts and make a meaningful, emotional connection. That is, your brand needs to matter to your prospective customer.

Travis’s career centers on brand management, and he offers five actions businesses can take in order to gain market share through emotional branding:

1. Discover what actually motivates customers. You’ll most likely discover that it’s not the functional features or benefits of your product, or the obvious, rational needs customers express.

2. Isolate the moments that matter most. Determine the key touchpoints in the customer journey as they engage with your brand—or with your competitors’ brand. Examples might include a TV ad, website visit, Facebook page, or storefront encounter. Some touch points matter more than others in your customer’s experience. Optimize those moments, and you’ll optimize your brand’s performance.

3. Spend quality time with customers. Whether through performance metrics, focus groups, or A/B testing, strive to understand not only what they’re doing, but why they’re doing it. Understanding what drives them may reveal deep insights about their needs and wants—and that information can give you a competitive advantage.

4. Obsess about customers’ experience with your brand. When all is said and done, brand loyalty is achieved through brand experience. You must find an authentic, meaningful difference that will demonstrate why your brand matters to your customer. This will help to develop a powerful and lasting emotional connection between your customer and your brand. After all, what your brand does is more important than what your brand says.

5. Expand innovation boundaries. Use a deep understanding of your customers’ experience to think beyond product development. Innovations that enhance experience or service levels succeed more, cost less, and have greater impact than new products.

Travis’s marketing strategies are just one part of the engaging curriculum found in Walden University’s online business and marketing degree programs, including Master of Business Administration (MBA) programs. Walden University offers a number of bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees in a convenient online learning format. It’s a great way for business and marketing professionals to keep their skills current and enhance careers by continuing their education.

--------------------------

Marketing keynote speaker Daryl Travis is the founder and CEO of Brandtrust, a highly regarded brand consulting firm. He is also the author of Emotional Branding: How Successful Brands Gain the Irrational Edge and his insights have been part of the online MBA program curriculum at Walden University.

*Eagles Talent, “Daryl Travis: Brand Power Expert, Author: Emotional Branding,” on the Internet at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gtlYyUbbbyw.

Brandtrust, 5 Ways to Steal Your Competitors’ Customers in 2014, on the Internet at http://brandtrust.com/5-ways-steal-your-competitors-customers-2014/.