Howie Chan is the founder and principal brand strategist at Healthy Brand Consulting. He has over two decades of experience building brands in healthcare across Biotech, Pharma, Medtech, Provider, Payer, and Digital Health for startups and Fortune 500 companies. Prior to founding Healthy Brand Consulting, he was the Managing Director of Brand Strategy at Real Chemistry (one of the largest independent healthcare agencies in the world). He is also an executive coach who helps leaders with their personal brand as well as hosts a podcast called The Healthy Brand Podcast. Connect with Howie on LinkedIn for daily posts about brand, strategy, and self-mastery.
In today’s rapidly evolving business landscape, the term “branding” has become synonymous with outdated notions of logos, colors, and visual aesthetics. It’s time to toss aside these old ideas and focus on the principles and strategies that truly matter. As hard as it may be, we have to remove the label and digest its contents. Time to shift our perspective to move beyond the conventional understanding of branding, and to instead embrace its true power in shaping human behavior.
The traditional view of branding as a superficial, cosmetic exercise must be discarded in favor of a more profound approach. Rather than fixating on the word “branding,” we should center our attention on the principles and strategies that drive successful culture cultivation and market domination. So forget about the term branding and let’s delve into three critical aspects that C-suite executives must consider to harness the full potential of branding without being limited by the word itself.
Leveraging behavioral science
To influence humans, you have to understand human behavior. Rather than design, it’s about understanding the psychology of your target audience and utilizing that knowledge to influence their choices. This transcends the confines of logos and visuals; it’s about tapping into the emotional and rational drivers that govern decision-making. This applies not just to customers, but also employees when cultivating a strong culture.
Consumer/ employee Insights: Begin by gaining profound insights into your audience’s needs, desires, fears, and aspirations. Understand the emotional triggers that motivate their decisions. By intimately knowing your audience, you can create messaging and experiences that resonate deeply.
Emotional connection: Develop narratives and stories that forge emotional connections with people. Emotions often play a more substantial role in decision-making than rational thinking. Craft stories that evoke feelings of trust, loyalty, and belonging, making consumers more likely to align with your company and your offer.
Building consistency and trust
Effective shaping of the market transcends one-time efforts; it’s a continuous commitment to consistency and trust-building. Inconsistencies in execution can confuse and alienate your audience, eroding trust and loyalty. Consistency, on the other hand, reinforces your company’s identity and commitments.
Integration and alignment: Ensure that every interaction, from marketing campaigns to customer service touchpoints, reflects your company’s or product’s core values and message. Consistency reinforces your its identity and builds trust over time.
Trustworthiness: Trust forms the bedrock of loyalty. Establish your company and product as reliable, transparent, and customer-centric. When people trust it, they are more likely to engage with it and become advocates.
Harnessing Emotional Appeal
Leaning into emotions is a potent tool for driving behavioral change. It can motivate customers to take specific actions, whether it’s making a purchase, subscribing to a newsletter, or championing a cause. To achieve this, we must tap into the emotional drivers that lead to action.
Behavioral Triggers: Identify the behaviors you wish to encourage and the emotions associated with them. Tailor your efforts to trigger these emotions. For example, if you want customers to adopt a healthier lifestyle, evoke feelings of well-being and empowerment.
Long-term Impact: Realize that any transformation is a long-term investment in behavioral change. It’s not about quick wins but about gradually shifting perceptions and actions. Consistency in messaging and experience is vital for sustained behavior change.
As C-suite executives, it’s imperative to recognize that the traditional understanding of branding is outdated and limited. I have not used the word “brand” or “branding” in any of the principles above and yet, they stem from this discipline. So instead of clinging to the word “branding,” and become limited by your perceptions, embrace the principles and strategies that drive it. It’s a strategic discipline capable of shaping human behavior and driving business success.
In an increasingly competitive marketplace where consumer choices are influenced by both rational and emotional factors, rethinking the outdated perceptions and concept of branding is not just prudent; it’s essential. “Branding is Dead, Long Live Branding” calls us to abandon the old notions and to focus on the strategies and principles that lead to meaningful, lasting change. By leveraging the psychology of your audience, fostering consistency, and tapping into emotional appeal, your organization can harness the full power of branding to positively influence customer and employee behavior.
Associations with the word “branding” may be outdated and should be put into the ground, but the principles and strategies that underpin it are very much alive and capable of propelling your organization towards sustained growth and customer loyalty. It’s time to embrace a new era of branding, one that transcends mere aesthetics and truly influences human behavior.