Follow the FeelingBrand Building in a Noisy World
Elevate your brand, rise above the crowd, and build tribe In Follow the Feeling, strategy advisor Kai D. Wright answers a critical question plaguing entrepreneurs, brand strategists, marketers, and leaders: how do you grow your brand in a noisy world? Analyzing 1,500 fast-growing companies from Alibaba to Zara, the Columbia University lecturer and Ogilvy global consulting partner unpacks five branding secrets. Starting with behavioral economic principles and ending with a new systems-based approach to brand building, Wright offers readers one metric that trumps the hundreds entangling brand value, feelings. Follow the Feeling will show you how to best build and position your brand so you can stand out from competitors, build a tribe, and engineer a positive feeling across five important branding territories—lexicon, audio cues, visual stimuli, experience, and culture. Sharing real-world lessons and practical advice he has gained helping everyone from Sean Diddy Combs and Meghan Trainor to Bank of America and HP develop and implement shareable, culturally-infectious branding strategies. Through storytelling, global research, and practical tips, this valuable book will help you and your organization: Efficiently create and deploy a comprehensive brand strategy across the organization Quickly launch new brands or reboot existing brands for growth Build tribes from audiences, consumers, clients, and partners Lean into the convergence of communication, culture, digital, and technology Regardless of industry or sector, branding is essential for companies, non-profits, and even individuals. Follow the Feeling: Brand Building in a Noisy World is a must-have resource for anyone from C-Suite executives to aspiring entrepreneurs seeking to unleash the full potential of their brand. And in this world of ever-increasing metrics paired with waning attentiveness, the most important signal of brand health is how you, through your brand, make people feel.
Preface xi Acknowledgments xv About the Author xvii Introduction 1 Forming a Worldview 2 A Case for Change 4 Feelings Aren’t Things to Gloss Over 8 1 Inside Out: What’s the Value of Being an Outsider? 11 A Red-Hot Industry 13 A Few Things to Keep in Mind 15 2 Going Haywire: What’s the Relationship between Economics and Communication? 17 “Most of the Time We Coast” 20 The Virality Coefficient 22 3 Resonance versus Share of Voice: In What Direction Is Technology Propelling Us? 25 A Lesson in Audience Physics 28 The Economy of Community 29 Are We Speaking on the Same Wavelength? 30 Avoiding Dissonance Begins in the Briefing 31 4 Creativity Applied Strategically: What Parts of a “Brand” Matter Most to a Digitally Wired Audience? 35 The Cracks in the Axioms 36 Emotional Horsepower Drives Many a Decision 37 Influence Rules the Day, But We Can Rule Influence 39 Surviving Brand Quicksand 40 A System Built for Brand “Value” 41 Every Hero Needs a Villain 42 5 Communication as a System: How Does Communication Work in Society? 45 Communication as a “System“ 46 Wired to Think, Feel, and Do 50 Finding the Right Triggers and Traps 51 A Fight for Equality 55 6 Lexicon Triggers: Branding Objective: Appeal to a “Tribe” 59 Limits of Words 67 Context 68 The Invisible Hand: Community 70 Shifting from Target Audience to Community 74 A Tale of Two Words 78 Niche Wins 79 Branding Language 80 A Planning Process Mindset Shift 83 The Double-Edged Sword of Being a “Household Name“ 85 Anchors and Normative Messaging 87 Cutting Anchors Loose 91 Conclusion 94 7 Audio Cues: Branding Objective: Develop Instant Recognition 103 Every Brand Longs to Be Heard 104 Audio’s Role: Hardly New, But Certainly Evolving 107 Sound as a Mood Shifter 110 Is Audio the Most Salient Part of “Memory“? 113 Our Firewall Works Like This: “Tuning Out“ 114 How Brands Learn from Television Theme Songs 116 Owning a Sonic Cue—Decline of the Jingle 118 Translating Sounds 119 Results at the Speed of Sound 121 Sound and Product Design 123 Voice 125 This Could Give You a Headache 128 Repetition Is Marketing Mythology 129 Conclusion 134 8 Visual Stimuli: Branding Objective: Become a “Conversational” Brand 145 Words Are Finite, Images Are Limitless 147 Say It with Purpose 153 Color 155 Shape 159 Becoming More Visual Searchers, Learners, and Sharers 162 The Journey to Brands Being Content 164 Welcome to the Newest Communication Club Members 167 The New Moving Image 170 Tracking Evolution One Dictionary at a Time 173 Conclusion 174 9 Experience Drivers: Branding Objective: Close the Feedback Loop 185 Create a Cross-Functional System 189 Business Models Built on Experience 191 Evolution of “Brand“ 194 Omnichannel Attributes 197 Great Strategy Comes from Unconventional Places 201 The Goal of Experience 209 Conclusion 213 10 Cultural Connections: Branding Objective: Align Thoughts and Actions 221 The Myth of “Safety in Size“ 227 Communication’s Role in Culture 229 Getting Out of Your Seat, and into the Field 232 Who’s the Villain in Your Brand Story? 235 Finding Your North Star 238 Building a Narrative 239 An Age Where POV Matters 240 Owning Your Narrative 244 Undercover Boss 246 Aiming for Success in Action and Commitment 255 Finding Your Brand’s North Star 256 11 Following the Feeling: What’s the Role of Technology in Following the Feeling? 265 Achieving Brand Lift-Off 269 Index 273
KAI D. WRIGHT is a strategic advisor to C-suite executives, founders, and talent. He has been recognized as a leader by Forbes, Adweek, and the Advertising Research Foundation. A frequent speaker at major conferences and Fortune 500 companies, Wright is a lecturer at Columbia University and global consulting partner at Ogilvy. He lives in New York City. www.kaidwright.com.
Elevate your brand, rise above the crowd, and build tribe In Follow the Feeling, strategy advisor Kai D. Wright answers a critical question plaguing entrepreneurs, brand strategists, marketers, and leaders: how do you grow your brand in a noisy world? Analyzing 1,500 fast-growing brands from Alibaba to Zara, the Columbia University lecturer and Ogilvy global consulting partner reveals five branding secrets—lexicon, audio, visuals, experience, and culture (LAVEC)—that will help you lean into the future without getting lost in data. Starting with behavioral principles rooted in economics and ending with a new systems-based approach calibrated for a hyper-connected audience, Follow the Feeling is a reminder that regardless of whether you're a startup, Fortune 500 company, non-profit, or even an individual, the most important indicator of brand value is simply how you make others feel. He wants to help you build a better brand; feelings are the blueprint. Sharing research, case studies, strategy frameworks, and quick-start tips on how to grow brands using the LAVEC system, the book takes readers on a journey in discovering, envisioning, and implementing culturally-infectious branding strategies both observed in fast-growing companies and learned while advising brands from Bank of America & HP to Sean "Diddy" Combs & Megan Trainor. This book is full of secrets and shortcuts that will enable you and your team to use one branding system to: Invest time, energy, and resources in the parts of the brand that matter most Efficiently create and deploy a comprehensive brand strategy Quickly launch new brands or reboot existing brands for growth Build tribes from audiences, consumers, clients, and partners Lean into the convergence of communication, culture, digital, and technology Offering a wittingly refreshing testament that brands are not built on data obsession, but rather, brands are built on customer obsession that starts with empathy towards communities, this book is a must-have resource for the entire organization, helping each team member unlock a growth path for your brand using the master key of feelings. “Kai analyzes and draws actionable conclusions from a dizzying array of data on people and behavior, to deliver a convincing, persuasive suite of principles and practices any marketer should embrace.” – Jason Chebib, Vice President, Consumer Planning, Diageo “Follow the Feeling brings to the reader an excellent guide on the role of emotion and neuroscience in brand building, translating principles into a path to grow your brand.” – Manual Garcia-Garcia, PhD, Adjunct Professor of Consumer Neuroscience at NYU and Global Lead of Neuroscience at Ipsos
The five-part formula for building a culturally-infectious brand In Follow the Feeling, strategy advisor Kai D. Wright answers a critical question plaguing entrepreneurs, brand strategists, marketers, and leaders: how do you grow your brand in a noisy world? Analyzing 1,500 fast-growing brands from Alibaba to Zara, the Columbia University lecturer and Ogilvy global consulting partner reveals five branding secrets. This crash course in brand building is a must-read for any organization looking for growth pathways. Starting with behavioral economic principles and ending with a new systems-based approach to brand building, Wright offers readers one metric that trumps the hundreds of data points entangling brand value: feelings. This book shows you, through case studies, research, and quick-start tips, how to evolve your branding to capture attention and win hearts & minds by focusing on five aspects of any brand that matter most: lexicon triggers, audio cues, visual stimuli, experience drivers, and cultural connections (LAVEC).
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