Avoid Consumer Breakups

Discover the importance of making an emotional connection through brand

Nearly 90 percent of our decisions are emotional, whether we realize it or not. We are all human, so instinct and impulse inevitably shape our choices, no matter the context. Attitudes and assumptions are all involved, as well. In both B2B and B2C decision-making, emotions form the basis of our judgments, not only to engage, but to keep engaging with our most valued, beloved and trusted brands.

When it comes to building loyalty, the best brands have started to view engagement as the consumer does: An emotional relationship rooted in shared beliefs and values. These are the Velcro points that transcend function or transaction, turning brand-consumer engagements into powerful and meaningful connections that last well beyond the point of purchase, taking root in the heart and mind.

Essentially the same basic principles that apply to brand-consumer connections also apply to relationships of all kinds. People respond to verbal, visual and behavioral cues that pull at the heartstrings of truth and desires — cues that, when activated, compel us to get closer. We feel understood and seen in a way that connects us to the brand in a refreshing, authentic and more relatable manner.

But with the seemingly endless array of mixed messages and ever-increasing noise in the marketplace, it’s easier than ever to either confuse consumers or miss out altogether. It’s perilously easy to miss the opportunity to connect with people who would have enthusiastically responded to what you have to offer – if only you had raised your hand the right way.


Every interaction with your consumer has the potential to reinforce or refute their belief that you "get" them and genuinely care about what they care about. As Simon Sinek, the author of Starts with Why, puts it: “People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it. They can tell if you’re faking it – and if they doubt you’re genuine, they’ll dump you.”

My team and I have a longstanding belief the most powerful, emotionally engaged brands know exactly what they stand for and how to signal it across all they say, show and do. They have extreme clarity on who they are, who their customers are and the sweet spot that ties them together in a way that builds genuine, sincere trust.

Often, however, we find that brands extend too far outside their comfort zones to stand out. It’s like they’re stuck in those awkward teenage years when all you really care about is fitting in, so you try to mold and squeeze yourself into being what you perceive will get you the notice and credit you desire. We get it: There’s a lot of noise out there. You have to find some way to cut through it all and capture your audience’s attention.

But today’s consumers aren’t responding to glitz and glamour. They crave real, uncensored, authentic relationships. They want to be emotionally connected with your brand. They want to share with you in caring for the same big ideas (whether they say it out loud or not). They want to feel aligned with your brand’s beliefs, values, and meaning.


Self-aware brands create loyal, lifelong customer followings by sharing an overlapping set of firmly held values, laced with an emotional promise that gives depth to their brand and meaningful commitment to their audiences.

So, these questions to ask yourself:

  • Do you know what your organization’s real values are?
  • Are you crystal-clear on what your most-valued consumers care about most?
  • How does that intersect with what you care about?

When you get honest with yourself about who you are and what you care about (and, equally importantly, what you don’t), your customers have real brand truths to connect with and hold onto. And when you know how to articulate the values your brand is rooted in and the emotional benefit you aim to deliver to your customers, the whole organization can anchor in it.

So, get emotional. Self-reflect. Get vulnerable. Get real and get raw. And make sure to listen: Understand what your audiences value most, what they believe, and what they really need. Just like you do with your significant other. When you do, the brand benefits will unfold exponentially for you.

Cheryl Farr founded SIGNAL.csk Brand Partners in 2009 to help organizations of all kinds realize their real brand power. She empowers leaders who value fresh creative thinking, purpose alignment, and the strategic pursuit of excellence to be strong stewards of their brands — and their people to be passionate brand evangelists. She is a brand innovator, noted public speaker, former travel and lifestyle writer, midcentury modernist, passionate traveler, New York Giants fan, and Instagram voice of her beloved shih tzu, Harry Carson (@harrycarsonspeaks). If any or all of these appeal to you, let’s chat: cheryl.farr@signalcsk.com

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