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Branding Expert: Building A Brand Is All About Human Feelings

Human experience, rather than the details of a product or service, will dictate how to build a brand, says Melanie Spring, chief inspiration officer at brand strategy agency Sisarina, in an XChange 2016 session.

Brands are built on human experiences -- not on products or services alone -- and humans want to feel something from brands they do business with, brand strategist Melanie Spring said during a keynote at XChange 2016 Monday.

That has big implications for anyone running an IT business and looking to cultivate a brand that will help them grow, said Spring, chief inspiration officer at brand strategy agency Sisarina in Washington, D.C.

"The brand is a feeling," Spring said in a session at XChange 2016, hosted by CRN parent The Channel Company and being held this week in San Antonio. "Even if it feels like your brand has no feelings, because we’re [in] technology ... it's not about the thing that you're doing, it's the human-to-human experience that people are getting."

[Related: Brain Researcher: You Don't Even Know What True Customer Loyalty Is]

The first step to building a brand, then, is to understand how your business is differentiated not just on its products and services, but also on the human experience it offers, she said.

Spring illustrated her point by showing ads from brands including Mini, Guinness, Bose and other companies, all of which aimed to convey emotions to the viewers rather than just focusing on their products.

"What is the feeling you're giving to all customers, members, clients?" Spring said. "Use that to pull them back in. … It's the experience that makes [your brand] different."

Spring also emphasized that building a brand is akin to building a club, with insider "members" -- who are ultimately the ones that dictate what your brand is really about.

"It’s not about you. It’s about them," she said. "Most of time when you read a website [of a company], it says, 'We are most amazing company you've ever seen. We have superior products, we are amazing.' They don't care if you're amazing."

The question really is, "What are you going to do for me?" Spring said. "We’re all human, we want to know what’s in it for us. What are they going to get out of being in your club?"

Spring's message resonated with Clyde Bennett, chief health-care technology strategist at Aldridge Health, a solution provider based in Austin, Texas.

Bennett, whose company sells electronic medical software and IT services to small medical offices, said succeeding in his field has been all about getting inside a "circle of trust" -- in his case, with doctors and other medical professionals.

"For somebody who is professionally not in their club -- I don't have an MD after my name -- I have to bring something to that community that shows that I share the same values that they do," Bennett said. "I have to show that I have the same interests in doing everything I can to make sure they're delivering quality medicine. I think [Spring] is saying a lot of the same things, about identifying what you do that’s unique. Brand and culture is really important."

Bennett added, "I think that she brings a good message to the IT community about how important it is to understand your clients. And like she said, it’s not about you, it's about what solution you can form that the client will appreciate."

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