I recently had a sit-down with Molly from Sweets Cosmetics who asked me the best way to connect with a new, tangential target market.

I just asked her what emotions her product was aiming for in her target market. Sweets’ products are undeniably cute, very girly, and very sassy. You’d be hard-pressed to find another cosmetics company like them. Sweets is already well-positioned with their target market, but expanding to a new target market requires careful thought into what the customer experience will be like.

Emotional targeting is actually one of the most important clarifying steps you can take when branding and positioning your business, products, or services. Let me walk you through an example with some of my favorite brands:

What comes to mind when I say Coke?

If you’re anything like me and Molly, you came up with “polar bears”, “winter”, and “established”. You might also think about the fact that there are coke people and there are pepsi people. In short, Coke – in our minds evokes two emotions: conflict and nostalgia (antiquity+comfort). You could also unkindly call this “old”.

Diet Coke?

Maybe Starry Eyed Surprise? That’s what most people would say – holy crap that commercial was catchy! I think of that, but I also think about smokers, actually. And I hate to say that, because Coke is one of my favorite brands. But I always think of smokers, gum chewers, and anxiety when I think of Diet Coke – because I had a teacher who pounded Diet Coke like it was going extinct and whenever I see anxious, gum-chewing smokers or former smokers, guess what they’re drinking?

OK. Now, what comes to mind when I say Pepsi?

Most likely, Britney Spears and hip commercials. Maybe those ads on the sides of old gas stations? Antiquity again, except it’s less warm and fuzzy than Coke’s, I’d bet. When I look at Pepsi’s new logo, the first thing I see is a fat guy in blue sweatpants whose tummy (white) is exposed because his red shirt is coming up over his flub. Do I get that it’s supposed to be a smile? Yeah, I do. But being a fat kid whose shirt rides up from time to time, I also see a fat guy on the can – a fat guy who I don’t want to be like. Helloooo Weight Watchers.

Right. How about Nike?

Athleticism, maybe? Olympics? Athletes? Michael Jordan? Aspiration? Winning? Those are all fair answers. Certainly not nostalgia or conflict, despite the fact that in order to win, someone has to lose.

Now the last two: what do you feel when you see Jones Soda? What do you feel when you read about Tom’s Shoes?

Are they different feelings than you had for Coke, Pepsi, and Nike? You betcha. Why? Packaging, positioning, and an active, conscious effort to shift the perception away from function. Want a soda? You probably reach for a Coke or a Pepsi. Want a treat? You probably reach for a Jones.

When you want to attack a seemingly saturated market, you have to set the stage to build the emotional connection that you want. Coke’s polar bears play right into your nostalgia. Pepsi’s advertising plays into the desire to be liked (and cool). Jones’ soda boxes feature pictures from their customers – and you can see the color of the soda (bright green, bright red, bright orange, etc). You get the sense that it’s your soda.

What emotional stage, if any, are you setting for your product, your service, your business? Does the emotion you’re trying to convey match the one your customers are associating with you? If you’re not able to answer those questions, you haven’t positioned yourself.

A business with no position is a dying business. Get to it!

PS – As a result of completing a web project earlier than expected, I have open spots on my consulting schedule! I’m offering four Renegade Marketing consulting packages.

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Both calls are recorded live so you can come back to them later.

The price is only $197. After 9/21 (or when these four are filled up), these packages will go up to my normal 2-hour consulting rate of $350. If you’re interested, just email me or click here.

(Header photo: Soda)