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Beyond Branding: What Your Customers Are Really Shopping For

by Sally Bacchetta, Website

April 2007

Recommend this article
More Articles by Sally Bacchetta

Your brand is identified by a logo or a look, but it is ultimately a perception that rests with your customer.  Words are a powerful tool for conveying brand benefits and building a positive consumer perception of your product or service.

Research shows that consumers typically spend less than seven seconds reading a label in the store, and that they only remember the first two or three branding statements they read.  The more text there is on a package, the less likely a consumer is to read any of the branding messages. 

So, how do you choose which words will represent your brand?  Should you use the jargon of your target market?  Be trendy, down-to-earth, or old-fashioned? 

The best way to make words work for you is to choose words that address your customer’s needs.  Four consumer needs that impact brand loyalty are emotional, social, intellectual, and security needs. 

Emotional – People want to feel good about what they buy, so make sure that your brand gives consumers reasons to feel good about your product or service.  Shout “feel good” by using bright colors and a clean layout for your branding collateral.  Most importantly, make sure that your branding text is relevant, memorable, and easy-to-read.

Continental Airlines has an ad in their in-flight magazine, that reads Continental: Official Airline of Face-To-Face Meetings.  They’re selling to emotional needs by offering reassurance in the language that their business customers use.  That single line tells consumers, “Continental understands what’s important to you, and we’re very good at helping you make it happen.  You can trust us with your business travel.”  It’s branding that feels good.   

Social – Humans have an innate need for affiliation, or belonging, and choosing words that appeal to that need is another way to build loyalty for your brand.  Consumer preference data and testimonials are two resources for effectively selling to consumers’ social needs. 

“More people choose Sally Bacchetta than any other freelance writer on the planet”, or “I learned skills in Sally Bacchetta’s sales training workshop that I hadn’t learned in 10 years of field sales experience.”  You get the idea. 

Intellectual – We all like to believe that we spend our money wisely.  Satisfy your customers’ intellectual buying needs with words that describe the value of your product or service.  One of my first lessons as a rookie pharmaceutical representative was to differentiate purchase cost from usage cost.  My antibiotic cost more to purchase than my competitor’s, but because it afforded better outcomes and shorter length of treatment, the cost to use was significantly less.  Using objective facts to fulfill your customers’ intellectual buying needs can strengthen the connection to your brand.

Security – Consumers want to trust the products they buy and the companies they do business with.  Would you buy a bottle of aspirin from a stranger on the street?  Probably not.  But you might if that stranger is wearing a Walgreen’s jacket and a tie and standing in a kiosk decorated with Walgreen’s banners.  Still a stranger, but a stranger in a brand that we trust. 

Choose words that tell consumers why they should trust you.  “Four generations of our family have done business with four generations of yours”, or “Certified by the National Association of Pharmaceutical Sales Trainers.”  Consumer confidence must be earned over time, but it begins with your branding collateral.

By using words that resonate with your customers’ emotional, social, intellectual, and security needs, you position your brand squarely inside your customers’ comfort zone and increase the probability of purchase.


Sally Bacchetta is an award-winning freelance writer and sales trainer. She has published articles on a variety of topics, including sales training and motivation, pharmaceutical sales, and emerging technologies. Read her latest articles on her freelance writer website.

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