Brands get all the credit in marketing. We talk about them as the driving force of consumer enterprise. We ascribe to them the power to command legions of loyal followers. We discuss “brand personalities” as though these entities were somehow human. I, however, look at it from a different angle. For me, behind every brand there is a more charismatic power at work, something we can really call human—and that’s the business itself.
While every company’s story is different, there exists a very common theme: Somebody somewhere has an idea, and people come together to make it happen. As the company grows, its brands evolve; some will come and go. But the idea at the heart of the business is always there, driving things on. This spark of human interest is what really draws people to a business and the products it sells. It’s where the emotional connection lies. It is the true essence of customer loyalty.
I’m the CEO and CCO of gyro, a global business-to-business creative agency. The great privilege of my job is meeting business people of every kind and hearing their stories. Some clients are very clear about the big idea at the heart of their business. Others may know what they do and how they do it, but have lost sight of the sense of purpose their business was born with – and so we work together to rediscover their why. It’s a remarkable experience to see that spark reignited into something unstoppable. We love it.
And if that sounds emotional, I make no apology. Emotion means everything to gyro. Our mission – our very own why – is to create humanly relevant ideas. And that’s all about the ability to make emotional connections. Businesses thrive on that level of closeness with their customers. The top companies, those of Fortune 500 caliber, know this instinctively.
Now you may think that’s fine when we’re talking to consumers, but surely emotion has no place in the business-to-business space, right? As it turns out, that’s where it’s even more important. In a recent study, the Corporate Executive Board (CEB) and Google found business-to-business customers had a deeper emotional connection to brands such as Cisco, FedEx, and SAP than business-to-consumer customers had with brands such as McDonald’s, Nordstrom, and Target.
Of course, there’s bound to be a degree of emotional investment when you’re writing the kind of checks that put your job on the line. But the CEB/Google study dug deeper into business decision-making: For business customers, personal values (the human side) always outweighed business considerations (the rational side).
It seems that no matter how rational you imagine yourself to be, if you’re making a business decision, emotion remains in the driver’s seat. You make up your mind, and then your mind makes up a case to justify your choice.
That is why ideas that ignite emotions are ideas that ignite business decisions. And the biggest, most humanly relevant idea you will ever have is the idea on which your business is built. Over the coming months, gyro’s brightest thinkers will expand on this insight and share the lessons we learn as we continue to redefine the business-to-business category. We are proud to be starting work as the Global Marketing Advisor to Fortune. Let the conversation begin. And let’s ignite something.
Christoph Becker is the ceo+cco of gyro.