Finding Your Brand’s Joy Factor


Selling an ice cream cone? It’s easy to claim that your product inspires joy. At the very least, it’s going to put a smile on someone’s face.

But what if you are marketing a storage system or software package? You might think that joy doesn’t enter into the equation, or that joy marketing would be lost on a IT manager looking for a data center solution.

However, every product or service has the potential to resonate with people, and, when done right, messaging for business solutions can absolutely create an indescribable, “wow” sensation. In order to market effectively, you have to find your brand’s joy factor and demonstrate it through real experience.

Creating an Authentic Connection with Customers

Apple is known for creating award-winning technology and iconic marketing campaigns to capture their tech in action. The “One Night on iPhone 7” campaign was no exception to Apple’s captivating marketing strategy.

Without going into product details or highlighting features or functionality, Apple created a series of 16 short commercials that enlisted photographers from all over the world to demonstrate the low-light capabilities of the iPhone 7. What they received was a wide range of emotional and appealing photographs and videos that went beyond simple demonstration. They inextricably linked Apple technology to both the people using the iPhone 7 and the beauty and diversity of their surroundings.

The connection between the iPhone and its user in the One Night campaign is authentic. It’s real people taking live photos of their world. It immerses the viewer in scenes from New York to Iceland to South Africa to Shanghai. One participant captured her world through the eyes of her children. Some photographers focused on shadow, others on light, some on stillness and others on motion.

The result was a visually stunning demonstration of the capabilities of the iPhone 7 that draws the viewer in and excites them. The ads provide both an escape and an adventure. They play on emotional depth. And by the end of the ads, you’re left feeling alive and vibrant, along with those photographers, and there’s no doubt in your mind as to the capabilities of the iPhone. And yet, they never once mention a single product specification.

Capturing Understated Joy for Maximum Effect

Going back to the example of marketing the ice cream cone, it’s understood that showing someone happily enjoying a tasty dessert is going to look different from someone who is joyfully using a software or technology solution. While it’s true that software or hardware might make someone’s life easier, the joy demonstrated is typically understated, rather than overt.

Slack did a brilliant job capturing one company’s joy in using their product to foster greater collaboration between team members. The commercial is scripted, but it’s still an authentic reflection of the culture and personality of the company and its employees. The light thread of humor that weaves the demonstrable benefits of the software solution through the lives of those using it brings a smile to the viewer’s face. The people in the commercial are relatable, because they’re techies like us. We feel connected to both their initial struggle and their satisfaction in their solution.

When you capture the understated joy that your technology brand can bring to customers, you put your reader or viewer in the shoes of the people in your advertisements. But more importantly, those shoes fit. Your customers who interact with your marketing materials feel the connection on a personal level. They understand that the product is being marketed directly to them, and that the joy felt by the subjects of the ad is completely attainable.

Sharing Joy Increases Joy

A study published online by the British Medical Journal confirms that happiness can be contagious.1 This study, which followed almost 5,000 people over 20 years, found that happiness can be spread within social networks through three degrees of separation. “Happiness not only spreads from person to person but from person to person to person,” says the paper co-author, James H. Fowler, a professor at the University of California, San Diego. Happily, the study also suggests that sadness isn’t as easily transferred from peer to peer.

Your Body on Endorphins

Why is unleashing the power of joy so important? According to a March 2010 article in the Hawai’i Medical Journal a part of your brain called the hypothalamus sets off a chain of events that increases your production of endorphins.2 This “rush” is experienced differently for different people: a good workout, a dramatic mountaintop view or a successful shopping expedition could cause an increase in endorphins, depending on the person. Your body craves the release of these endorphins because they help reduce stress and improve your mood. Endorphins keep you motivated, upbeat and enthusiastic about your daily life.

Harnessing the Joy Factor

As marketers, we must remember that most people make purchases for personal reasons. On some level, they’re saying to themselves, “This product is going to make me happy or improve my life.” In essence, the product “wows” the consumer, flooding them with feel-good endorphins that encourage them to make a purchase.

But can business purchases have the same effect on decision-makers?

In short, yes, they can.

A data center engineer may experience a feeling of joy from something as prosaic as a computer server if it allows him to go home two hours earlier than normal or enjoy a worry-free weekend with his family.

A business leader might get a rush at the thought of increasing team productivity by automating IT services throughout her organization.

An executive manager would be thrilled by the prospect of making a purchase that puts his company on the forefront of the technology curve without blowing his budget.

Getting Beyond “Features and Benefits” in Business Marketing

Think about the tangible benefits of demonstrating products at trade shows. When you talk to people about your brand in person, you have an opportunity to provide a much more impactful hands-on, interactive demonstration. You can read your prospect’s body language, respond accordingly and ultimately deliver the “joy factor” that turns a prospect into a customer.

Companies are finding more innovative and subtle ways to re-create a joyful experience through experiential marketing opportunities. They are courting customers with classes, entertainment, and social experiences. This includes anything from cooking demonstrations at gourmet shops, to fashion shows at boutiques, to workshops at the Apple Store. According to Fred Thompson, retail practice leader at marketing company LoyaltyOne, “Consumers are increasingly responding to blended retail and entertainment experiences.”

“Millennials in particular respond well to these enhanced shopping and recreational experiences,” he adds. “Businesses who want to engage this powerful buying group should move beyond the traditional retail route to develop a hands-on shopping experience.”

Critically Important Questions for Every Marketer

The examples above can be distilled into three questions that every marketer should ask when promoting a product or service:

  1. What can I be doing as a marketer to leverage my product or service to make the customer’s joy last a little longer?
  2. How can I turn happy customers into evangelists for my product or service, so they will feel compelled to spread the word and bring in new business?
  3. How can I capture the moment of authentic joy experienced by my customers and harness it to invoke a feeling of anticipation in my prospects?

Find the answers to these questions by identifying the common attributes in the “joy” experience:

Surprise—a joyful experience always exceeds our expectations. It creates delight, amazement, wonder or awe.

Anticipation—anticipating joy is almost as good as the experience itself. Think of the feeling people get when the movie theater lights dim. That same feeling can be captured and applied to any marketing effort — including business solutions.

Resonance—a joyful experience touches the emotions and resonates at a deep level. It causes goosebumps, tears or laughter.

Clarity—an experience filled with joy allows people to see things in a new light or find solutions that ease the complexities of life.

“Aim for absolute delight,” says Robin Daniels of Salesforce.com. “By delighting your customers you can turn them into effective sales people who persuade friends, family and colleagues to use your products and services.”

So, go for it. Find your brand’s joy factor, and share it with the world.