By using this word, you think about your products and services - and your business - in a way that is completely alien to your customers. No wonder they ignore you.
The term “brand” is abstract. When consumers hear the word “brand” they don’t think of all the intricacies behind the term. They generally think of what it represents (a beverage, for example) and the need it fulfills (more energy, for instance).
Companies, on the other hand, use the word “brand” when talking about themselves and other companies. In the case of convenience stores, or c-stores, the term “brand’ is used to describe everything that is encompassed in the products offered. Take Coca-Cola - the “brand’ is not just the red can or the familiar curves of the glass bottle, for a c-store the “brand” is everything from the logo to the color and taste.
Consumers don’t think about the drink in such a nuanced way. They simply use the brand (which most would consider synonymous with logo) to recognize the product they’re looking for.
Brand associations can be summarized as relating perceived qualities of a brand to a known entity. These brand associations are not consciously seen as “reasons-to-buy,” they are simply ways of recognizing and differentiating brands. The golden arches, for instance, are used to quickly find fast and cheap burgers.
Brand recognition is important to consumers for what it represents (a way to find the brand they’re looking for), not because they’re thinking about your mission. Take the well-known Pepsi vs. Coke taste test, demonstrating the strength of brand impact, even on something as “pleasurable” for the brain as a sugary drink (a basic pleasurable reward). The participants showed a marked preference for one brand, affecting their enjoyment of the drink.
Do brand values matter?
Yes, consumers care about a company’s values...to a certain extent. But when they’re making a purchase, they aren’t mulling over the company’s ideals - they’re thinking about whether the product meets their needs and desires.
It’s a mistake to focus too much on values in marketing. When consumers are in the checkout aisle grabbing a pack of gum they aren’t thinking about Orbit’s values - they’re thinking about how they want fresh breath for their date.
So what’s really influencing people to buy? Emotion.
What do you buy if you’re stressed before a meeting? Maybe you treat yourself to a piece of chocolate. You’re thirsty on a hot afternoon and you still have meetings ahead of you? You could grab a Coke for a refreshing buzz. Hard day at work? You might reward yourself by ordering a pizza for dinner.
Decisions are emotional - we all make decisions based on two things: what satisfies our needs and what aligns with how we are. Marketing psychology is all about utilizing this knowledge to market with “calculated emotional appeal.”
When people are making buying decisions, they aren’t thinking about Coca-Cola’s mission or Hershey’s brand values - they’re thinking about satisfying their emotional, physical, and psychological desires.
Appeal to emotions with games
A unique and effective way to appeal to your customers’ emotions is through play. A game is an entertaining means of engaging your customers.
One of the keys to a successful advergame, or advertising game, is not focusing too much on your company’s logo, brand, or values. A custom advergame incorporates these aspects seamlessly so that they’re a subconscious part of the experience, not awkward product placements that distract from the experience.
Focus on the role your game plays in your customer’s life: fun, distraction, flow, etc.
There are many reasons why we play video games - everything from fulfilling our natural propensity for curiosity to a rewarding sense of control (which isn’t always present in our day to day lives).
One study showed that attractive features of games are “enjoyment and relaxation gained from gaming, having no constraints in games like one may have in real life, the artistry of the game, and the interactivity and competitiveness of a game.” Games also provide achievement, social connection, and immersion. In a later post, we’ll take a look into the world of personalized gaming as another means of connecting with customers.
Focusing on emotion, rather than branding, will help you connect with your customers and engage them in a meaningful way. Games are a unique means of utilizing emotion to captivate your customers. You can use advergames to create a magical world that delights your customers and improves your customer experience.