SET YOUR BRAND APART WITH EMPATHY

Posted on 08/01/2022 | 4 minutes read

"Brand value and empathy go hand-in-hand. It refers to why consumers need the brand in their lives. Making sure your brand aligns with what means the most to your customers is of the utmost importance when it comes to brand value benefits."

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Empathy is best known for being a part of our personal lives. We feel for those who are facing financial hardships, loss of job, or the ending of a relationship. Seeing a situation from someone else's perspective is crucial to doing good in the world. However, empathy is not just valuable in our personal lives. It is the key to setting your brand apart. From packaging design to ads, having empathy is an incredibly powerful asset in any company's arsenal. Benefits include:



  • A higher number of sales


  • Increased loyalty


  • Higher levels of productivity


  • Competitive advantage



In fact, according to the empathy index published by the Harvard Business Review, the most empathetic companies also happened to be those who performed the highest, with 50 percent more earnings. There are four different ways that empathy can be applied when developing a physical brand experience strategy.



  • Empathy of Brand Principles


  • Empathy of Physical Touchpoints


  • Empathy of User Engagement Activity


  • Empathy of Brand Value Benefits



Empathy is customer-centric versus brand-centric. This is your guide on how to incorporate empathy into each of these areas.



EMPATHY OF BRAND PRINCIPLES


Brand principles are the foundation of a brand. They outline what a brand will and will not do and ensure all actions taken by the brand include packaging design and brand activation marketing, are in line with the company's vision and goals. Every time a decision is made, these standards must be referred to. Make brand principles more effective by infusing empathy into them.


First, identify who the ideal audience is. Next, determine what their needs are and their pain points. When creating brand principles, I find it helpful to put myself in my customers' shoes and ask a couple of questions.



  • What do I expect from this brand?


  • What can be done that will make the brand more appealing and me more likely to become a loyal customer?



By adding empathy into the principles of branding, I am appealing to the emotions of my customers and making strong connections, which translates into a higher number of sales.



EMPATHY OF PHYSICAL TOUCHPOINTS


Physical touchpoints are crucial to connecting with and making lasting impressions on potential and current consumers. It refers to anything that the target audience comes in contact with. This includes:



  • Packaging design


  • Product samples


  • Tradeshow booth


  • Marketing materials (e.g. catalogues, sample kits)


  • Promotional giveaways (e.g. hats, tote bags)



Every physical touchpoint should be executed with intent and impart empathy, not only by what it is but the material used. Let's look at a few examples:



PACKAGING DESIGN


If I produce a cereal geared towards children, then my ideal target audience may be large suburban families with children between the ages of 2 and 18. Packaging made out of glass or another fragile material is a design I would avoid. The packaging should appeal to the needs of a suburban parent and be durable, safe, and easy to use.



EXHIBIT DESIGN


Now, let's say I make a product that targets seniors, and I'm setting up a booth at an expo. I want every element to appeal to their senses and needs. For instance, I can install a soft rubber floor, handrails, large print, and an easy-to-navigate booth for those who may need walkers or a wheelchair.



PROMOTIONAL GIVEAWAYS


For our last example, we will say that I make a product geared towards teens, and I want to make a promotional giveaway. Coffee mugs or tumblers are trendy but probably not the best for teenagers whose parents will ultimately purchase the item and do not want their teens drinking coffee. A better choice may be a selfie ring light or a smartphone charger. Let's face it! We know we can always use more of either of these!


The bottom line is that physical touchpoints should always consider the behaviors, wants, and needs of the target audience.



EMPATHY OF USER ENGAGEMENT ACTIVITY


The target audience has to want to engage with the brand. From marketing to the packaging unboxing experience, it is imperative to take their needs into account in every activity. I like to walk through the process as if I was a consumer. For instance, let's say the packaging requires scissors to open or batteries that aren't included. Neither of these examples incorporates empathy into the user engagement activities. Instead, the packaging design should be secure yet easy to get into without unnecessary hassle. Including batteries is a great way to prevent frustrations when the consumer intends on using the product immediately but doesn't have any batteries handy.


Know the consumer and what they are into. An older target audience may not be more interested in a printed flyer or brochure versus Instagram. In contrast, a younger target audience will enjoy interacting on social media. Another great way to elevate user engagement activity is to utilize digital marketing. For example, Starbucks used Augmented Reality to promote their new Christmas-themed cups



EMPATHY OF BRAND VALUE BENEFITS


Brand value and empathy go hand-in-hand. It refers to why consumers need the brand in their lives. In order to show this value, I have to once again see things from the perspective of my target audience.



  • What would make me feel as if I can't live without this particular brand?


  • What do my consumers value?



Making sure your brand aligns with what means the most to your customers is of the utmost importance when it comes to brand value benefits. For example, let's say my ideal target audience has a passion for preserving the environment. I will then do everything in my power to produce my products from sustainable, environmentally friendly materials and make sure consumers know this. Another option is to give a percentage of the profit to an environmental cause.



EMPATHY IS KEY


The bottom line is that empathy builds brand trust, translating into loyal customers and higher profit margins.  Every aspect, especially marketing, packaging design, and brand activation campaigns, should be focused on what the consumer wants and needs versus the brand.



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ABOUT ARC & CO. DESIGN COLLECTIVE


Arc & Co. Design Collective transforms your brand messages into engaging physical brand experiences that increase your brand's perceived value and loyalty with your customers. By utilizing our proprietary FOUR Dimensions Framework™, we strategize, conceptualize, innovate and design experiential packaging and brand activation spaces that will complement your business and keep you ahead of the competition.


Get in touch with us to discover how we can assist in integrating a physical brand experience into your marketing strategy.

TL ; DR NOTES

The cornerstone of empathetic branding is to consider the perspective of consumers when making every business decision. The following are the four keys to successfully incorporating empathy into your brand:


To stay at the forefront of your industry, you have to be unique. Incorporating empathy into branding is crucial to setting your company apart from its competitors.



Consumers expect a personalized experience. Empathetic branding should be customer-centric and not brand-centric.



Consumers who have a negative interaction aren't likely to come back or recommend your brand to their family and friends. Every interaction of a brand, including physical touchpoints (e.g., promotional giveaways) and user engagements (e.g., packaging design), should result in a positive experience for customers.



The ultimate goal is to maximize profits. Empathy and branding improve customer relationships and increases sales.

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