They’ve Got A Spell On You


Target’s brand identity follows a series of visual indicators (design guidellines) that signal our brains and make the emotional connection.

Why do people buy (or vote with their dollar)? There’s many factors, but overall people because of the promise of something better. It’s the promise of true change (Obama), impressing others (luxury brands), building wealth (Charles Schwab), saving money (WalMart), saving their soul (religion), or saving the planet (Toyota Prius or Whole Foods). Marketing guru Seth Godin says that people buy lottery tickets for the “thrill of possibility, the chance for recognition, the chemical high of anticipation.” People buy hope. And most purchases are purely emotional. The whole self-help book industry is fueled on this human instinct.

Brands who sell emotion are commonly successful. Marketing case studies examine brands like Starbucks, who doesn’t sell coffee, but rather sell an everyday indulgence. Eat a bowl of Kellogg’s Total, and you’re not having cereal, you’re having 100% of your daily vitamins and minerals. And a pair of Nike shoes doesn’t just cover your feet, it initiates you into a community of athletes and a history of champions.

These brands have got a spell on their audiences, because their audiences relate their brands to their own personal emotions. These brands cast a spell with their emotional messages, and then use design to create the full brand experience.

Marketing messages and visuals have gotten so entwined in our brains, it’s difficult to undo the connections. Think B.I.G blogger and designer Ken Peters states “across all these touchpoints…the most important question is… do consumers feel better after experiencing your brand?”

Looking to shop for basics with design value? Target Stores. Do you picture Target red, the logo, the store design, the aisles or gift cards? Easy to find from the street, easy to find products in the store, easy to shop online… Target designs an easy experience that continues the emotion through the customer experience, which encourages interaction with all customer touchpoints and reinforces the brand.

Stated in a paper by Hiebing, few people are aware of how affected they are by their emotions. “No human being is immune to the influence of their unconscious emotions. The rule of thumb among cognitive scientists is that 95 percent of all human behavior is unconscious. Emotional connection is even more critical if your target market is female. Women already control or influence over 80 percent of the purchases in the United States, a total of around $3.5 trillion every year.”

When I was younger, I refused to eat any other cheese slices than Kraft. Actually, I was a brand snob when it came to food. I wasn’t choosing good food, just food brands I saw on television. There was a comfort level of familiarity after seeing the orange cheese with a glass of milk poured into it on the commercial and seeing the very same product in the dairy section. My mom just couldn’t win at saving money on groceries.

How many times has the craving for something overcome the rational reasons? It happens more often than not. And the connection between craving and having starts early in life (I think my first words were “I want”)!

Cast an inexplicable spell on your customers. Give them an emotional reason to buy and then design them a beautiful, comfortable path to find and get what they crave.

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