Emotional or Rational? Both!

I have written regularly about the difference between the emotional and rational benefits of a brand. Rational benefits are easy to understand, but can be easily copied. Think of the technical specs of a computer. Emotional benefits are more abstract but are harder to duplicate and thus generate greater loyalty among customers.

Unfortunately, this is sometimes interpreted as a choice between one type of benefit or the other in your brand strategy. In fact, choosing one or the other is one of the worst things you can do for your brand.

The relationship between emotional and rational benefits, it turns out, runs very deep. 

It can be helpful to view the emotional side of a brand as the higher order benefits built on the foundation of rational elements. Without that foundation, any claims for the corresponding emotional benefits would lack any credibility.

For example, an emotional benefit of shopping at Mountain Equipment Co-op (an outdoors equipment retailer) is that you feel very rugged, like a genuine outdoorsman (or outdoorswoman).  Rationally, the store provides extremely knowledgeable staff who can help you get the most out of your equipment. While these are separate benefits, they are inextricably linked. The former couldn’t exist without the latter. You might be able to buy the same bike or tent at Canadian Tire, but you wouldn’t leave the store feeling the same way.

When determining what the most important rational and emotional attributes are for your brand, be sure that you understand how they are intertwined, otherwise you may end up doing more harm than good.

Ben Wise

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Tags: Branding, Strategy