A Simple Technique to Identify Your Brand's Emotional Benefit

  •    Clint is a Brand Manager for a major food company.

The greatest achievement for most business owners is a tight emotional connection with their customers. The key to developing this important link is by identifying your brand’s emotional benefit.

Traditionally, you would identify your brand’s primary emotional benefit through intense consumer research, leading to the creation of a “benefits ladder.” This ladder would diagram the progression from key product attributes to product benefits, followed by the direct consumer benefit, and ultimately the key emotional benefit. Big brands spend hundreds of thousands of dollars getting this output precise and accurate. However, you can create an effective benefits ladder simply by asking your customers one question:


Let me explain. Assume you sell a line of cookware named Cook-smart. Cook-smart offers the best heat-resistant rubber handles on the market. A conversation with a customer to understand your benefit ladder might look like this:

You: Why do you buy Cook-smart?
Customer: Because it has those nice rubber handles
You: Why is that important to you?
Customer: Because it never gets hot when I touch it
You: Why is that important?
Customer: Because I know I’ll never get burned
You: Why is it important that you don’t get burned?
Customer: Because if I burn myself, I could drop the pot
You: Why is it important that you don’t drop the pot?
Customer: Because I have a lot of little kids running around and I want to make sure I don’t accidentally hurt myself or my family
You: Why is it important that you don’t hurt you or your family?
Customer: Because I want to be a good mom.

Bingo. Simply by asking “Why?” you just figured out that your core customer’s true reason for buying your cookware (whether she explicitly realizes it or not) is to be a better mother. You were able to cut through surface-level benefits and find a benefit that you can nurture and own as a brand.

Through this process, you have also essentially developed your own benefit ladder:

  • Product attribute: Special rubber handles
  • Product benefit: Won’t get hot
  • Customer benefit: Won’t burn you, forcing you to drop or knock over the pan
  • Emotional benefit: Trust that you’re keeping your family as safe as possible

The next step is to leverage these benefits in all your communication pieces. Instead of running an ad touting the scientific construction of your cookware handles, it will be more impactful to focus on how customers can trust not getting burned and why it will make them better mothers.

Once you connect with your customers through an emotional benefit, they will be more loyal to your brand; not because they think you make great products, but because they know you make the great products for them.