A brand consists of the things you’ve learned throughout your life – thoughts; pictures and colors; statistics; experiences you’ve both had and not had; smells and tastes; comfort; and speech and everything else – all wrapped into a single emotional experience. All those things and more make up a brand. Humans are simply unable to process all the information we receive in a rational way at the time of decision. As a result, our minds compensate by giving us a lifetime summary that enables us say yes or no. On a daily basis, we make the vast majority of our decisions through these gut feelings, often time leaving behind our better judgment. This manner of decision making is most popularly characterized by buyer’s remorse, which often follows an emotional decision.
Ralph Crosby, founder of Crosby Marketing Communications in Annapolis, Maryland provided with my first understanding of what makes a brand. I arrived fresh from selling my tech startup company that specialized in digital marketing. In the previous six years, I helped a wide range of companies achieve online success through search engine optimization, pay-per-click and online display. Crosby was transitioning from traditional marketing to a world of digital marketing. I was convinced Crosby had it all wrong because of my several years of digital marketing experience. I thought I knew everything.
Ralph soon developed the habit of calling me to his office. He was interested in this new form of marketing, and as a wordsmith, wanted to develop a set of terminology unique to the industry. I clearly remember getting that first invite via email, convinced it would only be a matter of time before the side of the building read Crosby and Kilmurry Marketing.
While I never achieved partnership, the experience gifted me in so many wonderful ways.
Ralph commanded a room. I don’t know whether it was his collective years of experience swirling around him that made every encounter seem heavy or whether it was simply his perfunctory nature. A fifteen-minute meeting with Ralph meant fifteen minutes only. When I walked through his door into his corner office overlooking Annapolis, all confidence drained away. Those visits seemed like trips in a canoe on a white-water river. You crawled in and just hoped for the best.
Meetings with Ralph ended up being some of my best experiences at Crosby. After the first few, I finally mustered up the courage to explain, based on my experience, the differences between the free and paid listings in search engines and why a company like Google was exploding onto the market. He listened carefully and always had new questions at our next discussion.
My view of marketing was myopic. Everything I knew revolved solely around website analytics. But I was missing the bigger picture. It was Ralph who first explained the difference between rational and emotional marketing. I saw firsthand the power of emotional marketing over the next several years.