The secret to defending your brand


There are some brands that are well ahead of their competition. These are the brands that people like to be associated with. But when you get there, you face the perennial problem of leading brands. Competitors are closing in from all sides taking bits of your share and imitators are getting closer to your quality undermining your premium price.

You need to constantly improve your product and your messaging to stay ahead, but every time that you change anything you get complaints from brand loyalists that love everything just as it is.

How do you improve without losing your consumers? How do you maintain your brand leadership and your premium price in an increasingly competitive world?

As a leading brand you probably have the best people and access to the most advanced scientific and technical resources, and this helps. But technical improvements are no good if they don’t improve the consumer experience, and consumers are very fickle about what they regard as an improvement.

Your technology enables you to improve product performance, improve flavour, remove unpopular ingredients…, but if your consumer does not like the change you end up losing ground.

So how do you identify the changes that consumers will accept, that will enhance their preference for your brand, that will grow your lead and maintain your premium?

Emotional responses

When consumers say that they like your brand, or your product, what they mean is they like the way it makes them feel. This is an emotional response to their experience, not a rational one to your product’s performance. When you focus upon the consumers’ emotional experience, rather than the rational performance of your product, you often see things quite differently.

This is not just about knowing how consumers feel after consuming or using your product, it is about understanding their whole emotional journey as they experience your brand. The ups and downs, the twists and turns, of that journey and how their sensory or experiential journey cues their emotional one.

Once you understand the consumers’ emotional journey with your brand and with your competitor brands, you will also start to see how that journey can be improved for the consumer and how you can deliver that improvement through the sensorial or experiential experience of your brand.

Small changes in your product delivery and/or your communications can make significant changes to your consumers’ enjoyment of your brand. When these changes are rooted in an understanding of your consumers’ emotional as well as their rational experience, they can be very powerful in improving even the very best of brands.


Chris Lukehurst is a Consumer Psychologist and a Director at The Marketing Clinic:

Understanding the connections between the consumer experience and emotional