Brands are supposed to make people’s lives easier or better in some way. But sometimes brands do things that just make people downright cranky.

If you’re a gamer, you’ve probably heard about the fallout from the release of Fallout ‘76. The backlash in the gaming community has been big enough that you might have heard about it, even if you don’t play online games.

Bethesda, maker of the Fallout series, made a major blunder, completely changing the Fallout game style from a role playing game (RPG) to a multiplayer online format, eliminating the RPG aspect. Bugs and playing issues aside, Bethesda’s biggest mistake was not doing better market research to find out if their very loyal community actually wanted this kind of radical change to their beloved game. The definitive answer was no. Sales numbers were down 82% as compared to the previous release. That’s huge!

With easy access to products and services of all kinds, brands have to be hyper-aware of their customers’ wants, needs and desires.

They have to return to the customer based world and put more focus on the people, rather than on the dollars, because focusing on the people will drive the dollars.

Brands have to better understand how their product or service helps to support their customers’ identities. We are social beings and we look for ways to identify ourselves with particular groups because it creates a certain status and a better way to navigate the world around us.

We can identify ourselves as nerds, geeks, jocks, hockey fanatics, fashion junkies, entrepreneurs, blue collar, university educated, and so on. Even identifying as a lone wolf creates a certain persona.

People buy brands because they support the way they think about themselves.

You have to understand your customer’s social identity and how your brand relates to it. A person’s selection, or rejection, of a product is equally as important. Both decisions give you insight into the way they see themselves. And each person has multiple identities depending on the situation.

A woman in a supermarket with her young child can identify herself as a healthy minded, well-educated shopper, who’s budget conscious, and holds the title for the ultimate 30-minute chef (in her own house, at least). Those identities will absolutely affect the products she chooses to buy. So, just knowing the basic demographics is not enough.

Saying that you “know” your ideal client because you can say he’s an active male, 25-35 years-old, living in a particular city, is like looking at a map of North America and saying you understand what it’s like to be in the Rocky Mountains because you can point to the triangles on the map.

If you want to build your brand, you have to really connect with the people who might want it, and pointing to them on the map, simply isn’t enough. You have to understand what really makes them tick, and exactly how your brand compliments their personality.

Understanding how your client self-associates with your brand is the key. What are the identity-driven effects your brand gives to the consumer? Basically, you want them to say, “People like us do things like this,” which includes purchasing your brand.

If a person identifies as an athlete, then you need to show how your brand supports that. Nike helps them to “Just do it”, Gatorade replaces what they sweat out, and lululemon is going to help them look good during their sweaty pursuits.

We all want to act consistently with the way we see ourselves, and it’s also important to us to have others acknowledge our view of ourselves as well. It’s identity verification. We continually send signals about who we are and what we represent to the other people around us, from the t-shirts we buy to the type of coffee we drink.

Each purchasing selection we make is a statement, sometimes loud and sometimes subtle.

Our signals and selections are also culturally driven, which is another area every brand must tune into, when it comes to really understanding their ideal client. Certain areas of a city can have vastly different cultures than others, which means a different way of identifying in each community.

We see the same thing on a larger level too, when we look at provinces or states within a country. While all Canadians have some common ground, someone from British Columbia, Ontario and Newfoundland, all identify themselves in different ways because of their local culture.

Take that to a global scale, and it becomes obvious that you have to do a lot of research to avoid the pitfalls that can come with reaching out to a new audience in a different country. If you’re going to market in another country, it’s highly recommended to have an advisor native to the area to help you navigate the ins and outs of the local culture.

No matter where you’re marketing your brand, the more consistently your brand can support a person’s identity, the more aligned and attached a person will feel to it.

Brand attachment is something we’re big on here at BottomLine. Studied in-depth by Joann Sciarrino, brand attachment is the “emotional connection between humans and brands” and it’s the only thing that directly correlates to sales numbers. Something rather important, when it comes to driving ROI for your company and your marketing.

Brand attachment forms in the limbic system of the brain, where the emotions are most associated with affection, connection and passion. When your brand touches all three elements, they combine to create repeat sales…or not, as Bethesda is figuring out the hard way, with Fallout 76. Their major brand departure has their customers passionately upset because they lost their connection to the brand, directly and detrimentally, impacting their affection for it.

But tapping into brand attachment the right way, supported with branded sales content, will help a company drive the attachment their customers feel, which will improve sales numbers.

Great storytelling is a huge part of developing brand attachment. Our brains are made for stories and storytelling.

Think about your own internal dialogue. Much of it is you scripting your own stories about any given scenario. We weave stories for ourselves all the time. We’re also good at weaving stories for other people too.

Storytelling is an effective technique because we have mirror neurons in our brains, which allow us to learn by watching or listening to others. Not having to figure out everything for yourself is a great evolutionary advantage.

Storytelling is a simple and effective way to pass on important lessons. When it comes to marketing, knowing this definitely gives a company an added advantage.

Stories are also a great way to help us digest large amounts of information, and because great stories tend to have an emotional quality to them, we actually remember them better. Our brains are more likely to focus on emotional stimuli, and the more focus we have, the more likely we are to remember it. And if your potential client remembers your story, they are far more likely to remember your brand, which opens the door to developing brand attachment.

That makes it all worth putting extra time into your marketing plan and develop a storyline for your marketing initiatives, ensuring it’s specifically aimed at triggering emotion in your potential clients.

So, how do you do that in the most effective way?

You have to understand the pain points your clients feel and the triggers in the environment that push on those particular pain points.

This brand-association technique helps to develop a more immersive experience for your clients, and one that keeps your brand top of mind.

Straight up, this is not easy to do.

You first have to understand the habits and rituals your customers have and perform, and then look for a way to pair your brand with a trigger in the environment. If you can also pull in a pain point they feel, you’re going to create a much deeper connection, improving the odds they choose you.

This is something Magic Bullet did really well with one of their infomercials. They tied in the ritual of feeding a hungry baby, with a mother’s concern about making nutritious selections for her child. They identified that the biggest roadblock into making her own baby food is the time and mess that she has to contend with, on top of the demands of being a mother. The Magic Bullet gives that mom the perfect answer, with a quick and clean way to give her baby fresh food that she can make herself, allowing her to reinforce her identity as a concerned and caring parent, who puts actively her baby’s needs first.

We cover this more fully in our white paper – The Secrets of Addictive Marketing. Click here to download it now.

You know that your brand is going to help people by making their lives better, but in order to connect with your clients in a truly meaningful way, you have to get to know them on a much deeper level, fully coming to understand them and their world. From there, you can create a marketing strategy that will be far more effective.

This is our area of expertise and we’d love to help you navigate it. Let’s evolve your business together. Book a complimentary consultation with us today!