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Heart over mind

To feel that someone cares about you is perhaps one of the simplest human conditions. Be it your friends, family, partner, co-workers, or society… Being present in someone’s life matters a lot.

The same happens with brands, if you think about it, their only function is to be able to be part of our lives.

It is obvious that to be part of someone’s life, they first have to know that you exist. In fact, the phases of relationships are exactly the same as those creating brand value.

  • First Impression: we meet someone and we acknowledge they exist, we see them for the first time.
  • Interaction: when we are already able to interact and verify they meet our expectations
  • Connection: we begin to share something else, we start developing feelings
  • Commitment: we build mutual loyalty and determination to make this relationship work

In the branding and marketing world, we’ve heard many times that the goal is to be at the “Top of Mind” (TOM) of the consumer. And when you think about it, who wouldn’t want to be the first option that comes to mind? However, being in the “Top Of Mind” does not always mean that your brand is their favorite.

When we think of categories, brands come to mind. For example, if we think about shampoo, maybe Pantene is our first thought. If we try harder, we can remember several more: Dove, Tresseme, Herbal Essences, Kerastase … you get the point!. Everyone will have their own list, but the top 2 of each category are generally shared by the majority of a certain segment of the population.

The top mind is what we know as the TOM. Some brands are so strongly positioned that we refer to the category by the brand name (think for example Sharpies for permanent markers or Kleenex for paper tissues)

So, the question is… what do brands need to be in TOM?

  • A strong and defined brand positioning strategy
  • Be clear about who is their audience
  • Reinforce their messages and choose a clear path of communication
  • Be there, remind their audience they exist through your actions and innovation

Yes, being TOM sounds like a pretty good deal, and it requires a lot of effort … but, it doesn’t necessarily mean decision making.  Other factors come into play when consumers are going to make a purchase decision such as the price, availability, but most importantly how the product/services make them feel.

This is where the “TOP OF HEART” (TOH) comes into play because being known is not the same as being admired, or loved.

Think about Apple for example. Apple doesn’t build customer loyalty with every technical specification of their new iPhones, in fact, we know that there are better smartphones out there. Apple uses its values and its storytelling to create a much deeper connection. The brand has been able to connect in a more human way with its fans, inspiring them to stay curious and loyal. This is an example of emotional connection.

Those brands that manage to connect emotionally with their users are those that instead of having followers have fans or lovers, and those are your greatest assets! 

So, the question of the day is … what does a brand need to reach the TOH?

  • Deeply understand your client, what they need and what they want, what they feel, and what they care about
  • Have a defined brand essence: mission, values, and purpose and act in line with it
  • Communicate through storytelling

So, what’s the key takeaway?

Being a TOM does not mean being a well-positioned brand, we may all know HP, and yet it is not a brand that is present as our first-choice brand on laptop computers.

A brand that in addition to positioning itself in The Top of Mind is capable of positioning itself in the Top of Heart has every chance of being successful.

Brands need to be able to connect with those around them, and therefore being known is not enough, consumers need to actually care about them on an emotional level.

To achieve both strategies we must make an effort to be clear about our essence and our messages, deeply understand the client and constantly remind them that we exist.  

TOM and TOH are two angles that must work together and that have different but complementary objectives. After all, there is no point in shouting if nobody listens to you, and it is useless if when they listen to you they soon forget what you said.

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