How to Make People Connect with Your Brand

Your brand is conveyed by your products, advertising, visual shortcuts such as logos, and the people behind it. But what really matters is the experience that it offers–and how emotionally attached people feel to it as a result.

A brand can be defined as a “reputation based on a collection of memories.” But in the age of TiVo and our numbness to banner, and most other kinds of  ads, how can you seed powerful, lasting memories of your brand?

One company that’s doing a great job of connecting with real people is Toyota. Here’s how Toyota’s Ideas for Good campaign is utilizing Design Principles to engage consumers:

1. Tell a story: Toyota created a challenge for consumers. The video describing the challenge begins with a story about Toyota: “Toyota creates innovations that have improved the safety and satisfaction of driving. But what if they could be used not just to make driving better, but to make the world better?” From the very beginning, Toyota engages consumers in a narrative about a company that’s already leading the pack in driving technology and now wants to take it one step further. The video then goes on to talk about Toyota’s history of social good efforts before explaining the challenge. This video creates a narrative of Toyota as a socially conscious, human-centric company. Toyota also uses stories to describe the Ideas Made Real, such as the video above about using Toyota technology to improve safety in Football.

2. Empathize: Part of engaging your audience requires asking: “what’s really important to them?” Instead of just showing the world how it’s using technology to help others, Toyota’s Ideas for Good campaign asks consumers for their ideas. Then, after the ideas have been curated by the Toyota team, the community gets the final vote among the finalists on which ideas Toyota should implement.

3. Be Authentic: What types of brands are seen as authentic? Those that are seen as organic (for example, Etsy), as consistent (for example, Apple), or as having a clear values-based mission (for example, Google’s “Don’t Be Evil”). In the Ideas for Good campaign, Toyota is demonstrating that it has a values-based mission by investing time and resources in a project entirely unrelated to their bottom line. Toyota is demonstrating that it also cares about making the world a better place.

4. Match the media: Each person has his or her own media preferences. Toyota’s use of video makes it easy for anyone to quickly learn about their project. If a person wants, he or she can easily share the challenge on Facebook or Twitter. The next level of engagement would be thinking of and submitting an idea to the Ideas for Good portal. By providing a variety of levels on which to participate, Toyota lets consumers connect to the challenge on whichever way they feel most comfortable.

You can learn more about Engage and the other Dragonfly Wings here.

What social media campaigns have you seen that effectively engage their audience? What do they do that sets them apart from the rest?