Live From DMDNY: Keep Your Brand Upbeat

New York–“Great stories are what drive brands,” according to Lucas Donat, founding partner of Donat/Wald: “As long as we focus on stories — we can connect on an emotional level.”

In his session titled “Direct is the New Brand Advertising,” during the DM Days New York Conference and Expo Wednesday, Donat pointed out that no matter which medium you use to reach your audience, having a powerful and engaging story to tell, along with a strong call to action, will keep your brand fresh in people’s minds and improve your results.

But when it comes to driving response rates, certain emotions work better than others. Sad and gloomy emotions, such as “disappointed,” “depressed” and “dissatisfied,” Donat said, “tend to keep your audience anchored to their chairs,” while up-beat, positive emotions, such as “excited,” “hopeful” and “lighthearted” are more effective at garnering response.

“Fear and guilt can also be leveraged– but only if you are lighthearted,” he said. You can use certain dark emotions, as long as they are blended with, or veiled behind, some form of humor.

“One of the most important things to do in building ROI positive brand advertising is to make sure you understand which emotions are appropriate,” Donat said. “Begin your story with ‘the human truth.’ People want to be seen for who they really are, and if you can do that, and do it effectively, you can achieve brand direct success.”

Donat said although there is a common perception that longer (120 second) ads work better for direct marketers, because it gives them more time to tell their “story,” many are discovering that shorter (60 second, 30 second and even 15 second) ads can be more effective, because they give viewers the opportunity to “assimilate a large amount of information in a very short time frame.”

This is what many “information snackers” in this Internet age want, plus it builds the brand up more slowly over time. He said very often, the “brand message can be condensed to shorter formats,” without losing its effectiveness.

What’s important is to build brands that stand for something, Donat said. “In today’s world, that’s how you avoid extinction. Your brand has to be about more than just impulse–it must be built in a superior way.”