Feel Successful? We Hope Not.

Most of us are bad at identifying the underlying reasons for our success. A successful first-time novelist will often have a disappointing second book because they learned the wrong lessons about how the first one worked. Most baseball players will have a “sophomore slump” — a second season where their old tricks have worn thin, and they haven’t learned to trust their instincts yet.

The same thing happens every day in the world of branding. Brands think they know what makes them successful, but very often they’re just repeating what happened before. It’s superstition, more than anything, that drives a lot of branding. What worked before may work again. Or it may not. Pretty soon that “success” looks like complacency, and by the time the competition catches on, the brand is caught flat-footed.

Competing on product features or “new” news is a sucker’s game and will only last as long as the next product cycle. But if a brand establishes an emotional connection — cutting through the logical brain and appealing to the touchy-feely one — that brand has most favored nation status with the customer. Consumers are more likely to choose the brand that makes them feel rather than the one that forces them to think.

The brands that are successful get this. They’re always working to enhance that emotional connection, customer by customer, contact by contact, impression by impression. Because the true measure of success is not having to think about a purchase at all.

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