Why Brand Building Requires Emotional Intelligence

October 26, 2020
Dustin Myers

I have spent the last decade working with businesses to help them develop brands from the ground up, or take existing brands into new markets and build relationships with new people. It is one of the most rewarding experiences because doing it well requires engaging all of the senses of the human experience to connect with people at a deeper level.

As humans, we are not wired to process an experience as individual parts, but the sum of them. In its very essence, a logo on its own is nothing more than an arrangement of shapes and colors. A tagline or brand promise could be dissected into a collection of vowels and consonants. If you analyze every other touchpoint within a brand experience, there are few–if any– single ingredients that would make a deep impression on you. However, if every element is rooted in a strategy and comes together succinctly, it is like a sweet symphony and has the power to affect us deeply.

Describing it this way may make it sound complicated or difficult to pull off. However, it is done every day, not just as brands but as human beings. On an individual level. When a person presents themselves in a way that their looks, actions, and words align, we are able to connect with them. Those who do it most effectively have what psychologists call high Emotional Intelligence. “Dictionary.com” has defined this term as “the capacity to be aware of, control, and express one’s emotions, and to handle interpersonal relationships judiciously and empathetically. Since the term was popularized by Dan Goleman in his book of the same name, Emotional Intelligence has become regarded as one of the most important factors in the success of an individual.

When it comes to branding and communications, we often close our imaginations to any ideas that do not drive an easily measurable ROI. This is why many marketers will often focus only on features and benefits. “Here is what we do, and here is why it will benefit you. Now buy our stuff.” If a person were to focus all of their communication around their own “features and benefits,” it would be very off-putting. We would label them egotistical, narcissistic, and do our best to avoid them.

Is it possible that your brand strategy and communication is like the person we just described? Take a look at all of the brand touchpoints throughout your business and make a list. How many of them are focused on just selling? As business people, we have to guide our decisions based on the bottom line and our actions are ultimately accountable to ownership, stakeholders, so it is easy to get tunnel vision in our brand-building efforts and disregard the Emotional Intelligence that humans need to survive and thrive in life.

If you don’t remember anything else from this article, remember this: Marketing is vital, but it’s not the best tool for every occasion.
Emotional Intelligence within your brand strategy is a key factor in your ability to build relationships, loyalty, and long-term success.

Emotional intelligence within your brand strategy is a key factor in your ability to build relationships, loyalty, and long-term success.

I recently came across an excellent example of this point in a conversation we had with Jason Cutinella on our podcast, Future Hospitality. Jason created a media company that produces film and editorial content for the hospitality industry. His company started by publishing artistic, engaging content in magazine format for hotel rooms. The purpose of these publications was not to sell the features and benefits of the hotel. Their aim was to create interesting content as a way to serve the guest and heighten their connection to the community they were visiting. Over time, they began creating video content for the first channel of the hotel room television. Again, this content was not to further sell people on the hotel like most of the competition was doing. This was to create real value. To foster a deeper connection with the guest and give them something they actually wanted to see. By taking this approach the guests’ in-room experience is taken to a new level.

This is a perfect example of the point that marketing your features and benefits is important, but not the best tool for every occasion.

The task before us is to help people feel like they’re part of the brand.

In a recent meeting, while discussing our client’s social media strategy, our client wisely noted that their goal with the content was to create engaging content that builds up the community and deepens relationships. The task before us is to help people feel like they’re part of the brand. Of course, ROI is considered and every business needs to invest in things that will accomplish their goals, but using your social channels exclusively to market features and benefits demonstrates low Emotional Intelligence and will not achieve your long-term goals. The key is knowing when to sell and knowing when to just build the relationship. Ultimately people do business with people that they know and trust. The ROI of building relationships may be hard to chart on a graph, but it’s actually the strongest investment you can make.

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Dustin Myers

Partner, Longitude°

Dustin started the company that would become Longitude°. With a deep focus in creating the methodology and processes that would become known as BrandGPS™. He is always striving to find ways to bring value to those around him and passionately focused on helping solve extremely complex brand challenges.