What's In A Brand? It's All About Feelings

(Note: This article was originally posted to CRN.com Aug. 23.)

The success of a brand is based on the feelings it conjures up within human beings -- not just on products and services -- and that has big implications for anyone running an IT business and aiming to grow, according to a branding strategist.

Humans want to feel something from brands they do business with, brand strategist Melanie Spring said during a keynote at XChange 2016 Monday.  

"The brand is a feeling," Spring, chief inspiration officer at brand strategy agency Sisarina in Washington, D.C., said at XChange 2016, hosted by CRN parent The Channel Company in San Antonio. "Even if it feels like your brand has no feelings, because we’re [in] technology ... it's not about the thing that you're doing, it's the human-to-human experience that people are getting." 

[Related: Brain Researcher: You Don't Even Know What True Customer Loyalty Is]

The first step to building a brand, then, is to understand how your business is differentiated not just on its products and services, but also on the human experience it offers, she said. 

Spring illustrated her point by showing ads from brands including Mini, Guinness, Bose and other companies, all of which aimed to convey emotions to the viewers rather than just focusing on their products. 

"What is the feeling you're giving to all customers, members, clients?" Spring said. "Use that to pull them back in. … It's the experience that makes [your brand] different." 

Spring also emphasized that building a brand is akin to building a club, with insider "members" -- who are ultimately the ones that dictate what your brand is really about.

"It’s not about you. It’s about them," she said. "Most of time when you read a website [of a company], it says, 'We are most amazing company you've ever seen. We have superior products, we are amazing.' They don't care if you're amazing." 

The question really is, "What are you going to do for me?" Spring said. "We’re all human, we want to know what’s in it for us. What are they going to get out of being in your club?" 

Spring's message resonated with Clyde Bennett, chief health-care technology strategist at Aldridge Health, a solution provider based in Austin, Texas.