A delay with repercussions

Brand, people, touchpoints: if you want to effectively address your target groups at all times, you need to synchronize your message with numerous variables and take the context into account too—a complex task that requires a methodological approach.

Imagine that you are sitting in an aircraft belonging to your favorite airline. You have been in the air for four hours and are due to land soon. Your connecting flight is on your mind, and you only have a transfer time of forty minutes. “It is tight, but possible,” you think, as you sit back and relax. But then you hear the pilot announce that the landing will be delayed by one hour. Naturally, you start to feel a little nervous because you will miss your connecting flight. So, you ask the flight attendant, who tells you that the next connecting flight leaves in four hours. More information? “Sorry, go to the airline counter at Terminal 3.” That’s it.

Emotional brand management as a method 

Aside from the fairly standard delay, something else went wrong in this fabricated, but not entirely fictitious, scenario. However, what could the airline have done? 

The neuro- and cognitive sciences offer some interesting answers. Their current research findings show how emotions influence the perception of a brand along the entire customer journey. Even when making difficult decisions or in difficult circumstances such as when a flight is delayed, emotions act as complexity filters that cause a clear position to be adopted with regard to the brand and impact all further communication. This is where a fundamental decision is made about whether something is liked, not liked, or no longer liked if a brand or its representative does not meet expectations at a critical moment—i.e., if there is no (longer any) agreement between brand, people, and medium. 

Methodologies such as brandsync® apply these findings to emotional brand management, and it is not without reason that they place particular importance on the synchronization of the three critical aspects of success: brand, people, and medium. 

brandsync® focuses on four fundamental expressions of emotional perception. These so-called SyncTypes distinguish between people who, on account of their personality profiles, strive primarily for autonomy, excitement, safety, or attachment. The more the brand messages correspond to the emotional fields or styles of thought of these types and therefore “reward” them, the more effectively they register and are stored positively in the subconscious of the respective type. 

One response is not enough 

What does this mean in practice, in our specific example of a delayed flight full of passengers, comprising all four SyncTypes, all of whom are wondering how to proceed but have completely different expectations?

A brief look at the respective reward systems of the SyncTypes already shows that the clueless referral of the flight attendant to the ground personnel for further information could at best satisfy the excitement-oriented SyncType. He loves surprise and is therefore constantly looking out for adventures or new experiences. And, based on the limited information from the attendant and the lack of help in the in-flight magazine, these could certainly lie ahead for him.

All other SyncTypes, however, will be disappointed: by the situation, the quality of information, and the brand. The autonomous type will only respond positively if he receives an offer that makes him stronger, more successful, and better. The safety-oriented type will feel rewarded if his life becomes safer and more predictable, while the interpersonal SyncType reacts positively to anything that conveys social acceptance and harmony. The flight attendant and airline have completely bypassed them in their communication. 

So, once again, what could the airline have done?

If it had an app, for example, the airline could have been extremely helpful. It could have listed all the connecting flights and made it possible to change the booking with just a few taps of the finger. Moreover, it could have indicated how to get to the business lounge of the favorite airline, if there are still places available, and whether there is already a friend, colleague, or business partner from the passenger’s network there who could be contacted directly via a chat function. 

This app would have converted 55 minutes of cogitation about whether or not to transfer to a competitor into meaningful time and genuine assistance. And, because it addresses the reward systems of all of the SyncTypes, it could have ensured a positive, emotional brand experience even in the context of a delayed flight. 

Systematically thinking about the customer 

To avoid any misunderstanding, this is not about the advantages or disadvantages of an app. It is about the importance of consistently tailoring a company’s own communication culture to the requirements of the target groups. This process should involve the identification of the most important touchpoints from a customer’s perspective and clarify how to stage emotional brand experiences that are as close as possible to the styles of thought of customers or target groups.

Methodologies for emotional brand management such as brandsync® offer good support in this area: they analyze and categorize target groups and their requirements in order to synchronize the emotional messages of the brand with the different SyncTypes and brand touchpoints. The use of the right emotional code is crucial in this process. This is because every touchpoint is suited differently to the various emotional responses and should thus be used in terms of its impact potential—so that people have a better time when their next flight is delayed, for example.

Über den Autor