A number of years ago you couldn’t walk into your office with a Starbuck’s Coffee in hand without someone saying, “You went to Starbucks and didn’t tell me???”  They didn’t say, “You bought a cup of coffee?”  It was, “You went to Starbucks??”

When Apple releases a new product there are lines out their door to buy it.  This is the same whether it’s an MP3 player, a phone, a tablet or a computer.  When Dell releases a new product do they sell out within hours?

What causes this phenomenon – the “I have to have it” need that drives the customers of these brands?

If you haven’t read about emotional intelligence – a study of the way the brain works in the decision and emotional process – you really need to.  Sorry to get a bit technical here (please bear with me), but there are two parts of the brain that I want to focus on – the Neo-cortex and the Amygdlya.  All senses – sight, sound, smell, touch, etc. – pass through the amygdlya for emotional processing before being forwarded to the neo-cortex for “logical” processing.

If you recognize this fact then you have the opportunity to do amazing things in business.  Did you ever make a “gut decision”?  Did you ever have someone ask why you are doing something, and you just say “It feels right?”  This is because the amygdlya is unable to “verbalize” – it can only make you feel.  When you make a decision based upon the emotions from the amygdlya you generally can’t quantify it.

The amygdlya sends different chemicals and levels of chemicals out depending on the type of response it thinks you should have to situations.  In some cases it will cause panic, anger, fear or other “fight or flight emotions”, forcing the rest of your brain to focus on only one thing – responding.  The amygdlya can easily overcome the logic portion of your brain – the neo-cortex.

But, on the good side, it can also create positive emotions – passion, love, personal significance.  Once again, the amygdlya can override the planning and organization component of the brain – the neo-cortex.

What does all of this mean?  In simple terms, if you can successfully create an emotional brand around what you sell, you have the opportunity to get people to buy it on feeling in addition to features and functionality.  Emotional bonds are much stronger than logical ones, and this approach cements the tie to your organization.

At my company we were fairly successful in creating this brand.  We had prospects saying “I’ve always wanted to figure out a way to work with you guys.  You’re amazing!”  It wasn’t that they wanted a specific service or to work with a specific consultant – it’s that we created an emotional brand around my company that drove people to want to work with us.

How did we do this?  Yes, I hired the best consultants, the most effective account executives and we had progressive solutions.  But we also created positive emotional ties to customers and our region.  We focused on the “ultimate customer experience” – the old adage of the “customer is always right”.  We’d do what our customers asked, and then go a step further.  We built personal ties with our customers and their families.  We did little things like answering the phone personally rather than having a computer answer it.  More importantly, however, we created an aura around our capabilities that create a feeling that we had the best and the brightest, and could solve any problem at any time – “creative solutions to creative problems” was my mantra.

So, as I liked to call it, we created the “Starbucks effect” with my company.  Our solutions weren’t just technical in nature but personal.  Our people didn’t just do work but they cared.

For a great presentation on “emotional branding”, check out this TED talk about how great leaders inspire.

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Chris is currently the Chief Innovation Officer at Internet Marketing Ninjas where he manages M&A activity, legal work, and also focuses on the use of technology and other solutions to lead innovation and growth. Prior to this, Chris led the sale of his $10mil information technology company, twice an Inc500 fastest growing company in the US, to an investment banking firm in NYC. He has a strong passion for sailing, and had the opportunity to spend two years travelling from Lake Champlain to the southern Bahamas and back with his family.

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