6 min read 16/01/2023

Why Empathy Drives Value in Branding 📊 

Authenticity over audacity 😲

Several weeks have elapsed since Balenciaga’s ill-conceived campaign, drawing the righteous indignation of Twitter and Tiktok users. Hell hath no fury like the internet’s scorn.

Balenciaga’s risque campaign was meant to contest society’s boundaries. Needless to say, their myopic strategy backfired, sparking division rather than discussion.

From a brand agency perspective, this protracted saga is not a new phenomenon. The inner logic behind such a bold move is rather straightforward.

Theoretically, “shockvertising” should work if the short-term attrition of leads, brand recognition and awareness outweighs the negative social cost imposed on the public.

This is, of course, an irrational model that wistfully neglects the long-term damages of a tarnished reputation: an intangible value that cannot be quantified into a dollar figure.

If the campaign attracts more leads than the sum of all prior branding and marketing efforts, your brand is forever associated with its mistakes rather than what it’s done correctly! The prominence of such a negative event forms a saliency bias among viewers. And it’s not a positive one.

By alienating their audience, Balenciaga has alienated themselves.

Empathy engenders loyalty ❤️

Pragmatic business owners tend to emphasise the tangible rather than intangible value that their brand offers.

Products and services saturate every corner of the marketplace. Unless your product/service is a game-changing disruptor (think iPod or Amazon), your entire brand is going to be the focal point for differentiation.

Explicitly listing out your product/service’s specifications and benefits is not enough to convince consumers searching for meaningful engagement. The dull droning of corporate overselling is a guaranteed means to discourage consumers from committing to your brand.

Brands are made by humans for humans, aren’t they? Like a friend with a friend, allow that human touch to inform all marketing or branding-based activities. With 59% of consumers citing a loss of humanity and personality across all brands, companies must show that they deeply value their customers’ opinions.

Empathy subconsciously heightens the perception of intangible value to customers. Aspirational advertisements that showcase a product’s intended use such as a BBQ pit on Anzac Day highlight the human experiences that these products help to facilitate. A product or service should be shown to satisfy a human need.

Why should shoppers pay for your product or service? What makes your brand different from your competitors? Be it moments of levity or a socially-conscious message, customers are looking for a splash of humanity in every interaction. A real conversation grounds the entire experience.

Aligning your brand’s marketing communications to match consumers’ emotions reflects a grounded brand that resonates with them. In some marketing circles, emotions such as likeability, relatability, and humour are indexes for ascertaining customer acquisition success and lifetime value.

Take it from a branding and creative agency: deviate from the corporate status quo, and your customers will be taken along for a shared journey. Do so, and you’ll shine a spotlight on your brand for the correct reasons.

Positivity pays 👍

Now let’s travel out of Oceania for a brief moment. In Singapore, a Tiktoker by the name of @Zohtaco, caught the attention of a Ramen restaurant chain, Takagi Ramen.

The user, Zohtaco, was showing off an $80 Charles & Keith handbag that her father had gifted her. Online commentators were quick to humiliate her, citing that the above product cannot be categorised as “luxury”, to which she responded that her family could not afford anything more.

Upset by the outpouring of negativity, Takagi Ramen publicly acknowledged the unfortunate incident with words of encouragement for Zohtaco on their official Facebook account. To sweeten the deal, they awarded Zohtaco with an $80 voucher to be used for a hearty meal between her and her father.

Takagi Ramen, as a customer-facing business, has allowed its empathetic side to be on full display. At the time of writing, the post has amassed over 4000 likes and 769 shares.

Acknowledging the struggles faced by the hardworking laymen shows deep-seated humility and respect for their patrons. And their considerate words forged an implicit connection with viewers. Above all, the situation Zohtaco finds herself in is all-too-familiar to many people.

In a 12 market study, compassion and human understanding are values that customers are actively looking for, and Takagi Ramen has checked all those boxes. In this time of prolonged hardship and persistent pessimism, compassion is a long-forgotten sentiment that human-centric brands can help remind people of.

While we’re not suggesting you copy what Takagi Ramen has done, this case study serves as important food for thought! It goes to show that brands do not need shock value for the rapid attrition of leads. Positive attention is earned when it is warranted!

As established in our previous insights article, businesses have a corporate responsibility to participate in the healthy functioning of society and the environment.

As an entity comprised of remarkable individuals, proactively find a beneficial cause to contribute to. Affiliate yourself with a non-profit organisation fighting for progressive causes. Show the public that you’re more than a for-profit. Show them that you care through assertive action.

We care 🤗

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As a Brisbane creative agency, we relate to the hurdles brands cross to find their “human voice”. There is an all-pervasive tendency to focus on neutral rather than natural language. But the rapid proliferation of social media accounts known for their witty clapbacks earmarks the lessening importance of sanitised customer interactions.

People yearn for brand authenticity and sincerity. Through our in-depth discovery session, we can tailor a marketing communications strategy that places your brand’s personality front and centre. Diving into the nitty-gritty, we’re here to help your brand speak its truth.

Through our comprehensive array of branding and marketing services, we’ll help you forge lifelong bonds with customers built on mutual trust and empathy.

If you’re ready for us to open your brand’s heart to the rest of the world, look no further! Our agency’s inbox is already open. Send us a message and we’ll book you in for a fruitful conversation about humanising your brand!

Let’s talk. Don’t be a stranger 🗣️.

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