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NO OTHER TECH GIANT understood the importance of investing emotionally in a brand, instead of in a product, better than Steve Jobs — and that understanding is at the heart of Apple’s rise to market dominance. Jobs believed that the essence of a brand isn’t rational or logical; it’s all about how the brand makes people feel emotionally.

Take Nike, for example.

Jobs said, “Nike sells a commodity; they sell shoes. And yet when you think of Nike you feel something different than a shoe company. In their ads, as you know, they don’t ever talk about the product… What’s Nike do in their advertising? They honor great athletes, and they honor great athletics. That’s who they are. That is what they are about.”

Finding your brand’s emotional essence means that you have to understand objectively what makes your brand unique. True differentiation is defined as something you offer the marketplace that competitors can’t claim, that you can easily prove, and that really matters to prospective customers. Conducting market research ensures that your customers agree with the differentiator you’ve identified, and that they value that difference.

Once you’ve identified what makes your brand different, examine how that differentiator makes your customers feel about your brand emotionally. When Jobs spoke about Apple, for example, he focused on the emotions and beliefs at the core of the company, saying, “What we’re about isn’t making boxes for people to get their jobs done — although we do that well. We can do that almost better than anyone else can in some cases. But Apple’s about something more than that. Apple, at the core, its core value is we believe that people with passion can change the world for the better.”

The Apple branding focuses on this core value. Apple’s advertising seems to say, “Seeking creative, free-spirited people with passion who believe they are capable of anything and can change the world for the better.” That’s the emotional essence of Apple’s brand. It’s about so much more than a logo.

Some differentiators don’t have a strong emotional voice. Many companies claim that their great customer service makes them different, for example. You can’t easily prove, however, that your company is unique in this regard until prospects experience your customer service personally, which can only happen after they’ve become customers. This is one reason customer service isn’t a strong differentiator. More importantly, customer service rarely inspires passionate, positive emotions in consumers.

If you want to find a stronger emotional differentiator, ask yourself how your brand is affecting your consumers emotionally today. What emotions do you want to inspire in your customers?

Even early on, Jobs understood the importance of emotional marketing. He said, “Marketing is about values. It’s a complicated and noisy world, and we’re not going to get a chance to get people to remember much about us. No company is. So we have to be really clear about what we want them to know about us.”

Your company may only have one chance to make an impression, making it essential to deliver a clear, meaningful message capable of standing the test of time.

This blog was written by RedRover’s CEO & Founder, Lori Turner-Wilson. 

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RedRover Sales & Marketing

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