Speaking brand language
Perspicacious companies and brands have discovered the power of the limbic system. They are now using it in order to direct communications more directly and purposely, and in order to permanently pay into the reward systems of their customers. This creates positive, emotional rewarding rewarding emotions such as pride, joy, balance or belonging or users and applicants alike.
Anita Hermann-Ruess, Communication Trainer, Author and Lecturer
With this method, the companies are charging their brand with emotional attraction and desirability. Their agencies coordinate all messages, images and media exactly in regard to this positioning. But what if a brand is also and above all, represented by people, as we often experience in B2B? Anita Hermann-Ruess, a communications trainer, is using the Herrmann Brain Dominance Instrument (HBDI ™) to efficiently eliminate inconsistencies in the brand image.
How a sales representative represend a brand in sales talk, an engineer at an important trade fair or a managing director in a product presentation depends on a variety of factors. These brand ambassadors do not always pay into the customer’s reward system with their personality, behavior and words. Often, through their unconscious behavior, they even convey completely different values, rewards and emotions than they were defined by the brand image.
How do you see the discrepancy between brand positioning and the behavior of employees as brand ambassadors?
“As a communication trainer, I experience this disconnect between intended brand impact and the behavior of the people who are to represent this brand on a daily basis. A brand, for example, invests in the repositioning on the value of warm-heartedness/closeness. It instructs experts to identify and mediate the ideal signals. Then, values and behavioral guidelines that divide the personality of the individual into multisensory signals, the so-called cues develop. These then describe exactly what words, images and forms of the value warm-heartedness/closeness can be generated. The agency develops communication messages and advertising measures according to these limbic guidelines. The result is a marketing and communication concept that is perfectly adapted to the reward system of the target group. And this is exciting for B2B: for example, a sales representative visits the customer. Tothe best of his knowledge, he now presents technology and numbers, in PowerPoint with text charts and business flare he presents the warm-hearted/closeness brand. What sounds involuntarily funny, however, has a considerable influence on how consistently a brand is experienced, how strongly it rewards the target group and how successful it ultimately is.”
Why is nothing done against this discrepancy in companies?
“This has something to do with classical company structures. There is the company management, that positions the company. The marketing department positions the brand. The personnel department positions the people. And there is the sales department, which then implements these or even own positions at the customer site. I experience in many companies that the different departments have different brand perceptions, simply because there is no communication between them. However, in companies that cleanly coordinate and communicate brand positioning and management have implicitly different ideas as to what exactly the brand defines and how it can be experienced. The reason for this is that unconscious programs control our perception, our way of thinking, and finally our communication type as well as our behavior. We experience the effects in the many misunderstandings and in some cases conflicts between marketing, sales and personnel in many companies. People unconsciously use their own values and ways of thinking as the basis of their argument. Subconsciously, they speak their own language with their favorite words, favorite images and favorite style. People subconsciously prefer certain emotions, feelings, patterns, products and people. If we are able to make this difference visible, we can make a big contribution in ensuring that companies communicate more smoothly internally and more effectively externally.”
When subconscious programs direct perception, can the problem be solved at all?
“That is the big challenge: to bring out the subconcious, make it representable, and to explain that every employee can understand and work with it. This means we need a simple tool that creates a bridge between the subconscious brand perception of people and their personal emotional reward system. The goal of this tool should be to help us recognize ourselves more conciously on one hand, but also to learn quickly how other people work on the other”
What methods are exits to measure the usubconscious mind, communication and behavior styles of people?
“In my communication seminars, I primarily work with HBDI™, the Herrmann Brain Domination Tool. HBDI ™ is a globally used model that explores, explains, illustrates, and measures people’s diversity. I use it to visualize the subconscious program of my participants and thus, make it conscious.”
What exactly is HBDI™?
“The Herrmann Brain Dominance Instrument (HBDI™) is the world’s leading analysis tool for thinking preferences. It identifies a person’s preferred approach, with regard to analytical, structural, intuitive, and strategic thinking. Its knowledge leads individuals to a significantly increased self-awareness. HBDI ™ is the result of more than 30 years of research and innovation. it was developed in the 70s and 80s by Ned Herrmann in the organizational development department of General Electric. An HBDI ™ analysis has already been prepared for more than three million people worldwide. The instrument is used in the scientific community by many listed companies. The HBDI™ survey consists of 120 questions whose evaluation, in the form of a profile, provides a profound understanding of the preferred thinking preferences of the profile owner. The comparison of different profiles – of conversation partners, team members or employees from the entire company- shows where the discrepancies in the understanding of the brand lie, or in other words, where there is potential for optimizing communication, cooperation and mutual understanding. HBDI ™ is not a test; it measures neither skills nor competences of a person but their preferences and dislikes. In order to remain with our example of the brand ambassador repositioned on warm-heartedness/closeness of the brand: If his profile is primarily located in the A-quadrant, but the personality of the brand (and thus the target group) is found in the C-quadrant, the subconscious discrepancies occur as described above.”
What opportunities does HBDI ™ offer beyond the optimization of corporate communication?
“Knowing how to think subconsciously, and how exactly the other person thinks subconsciously facilitates co-operation on many levels. Thinking and communication styles can be measured and visualized. A value-free discussion with my own profile and the profile of my counterpart, whether colleague or customer, is now possible. We can understand why, for example, we perceive the brand differently than our conversation partner, who has a completely different profile. We can understand why there is friction between departments, as departments also have a tendency to a certain profile. In the marketing department, we tend to find stimulus types (from the yellow quadrant with experimental thinking and communicationstyle), primarily dominant types (from the blue quadrant with logically oriented style) in sales & marketing, predominantly security types (from the green quadrant with logically structured style) in controlling and in human development more relationship types (from the red quadrant with an emphatically emotional style). It is no wonder, that communication about brand impact is so difficult sometimes. A common model makes it easier for all parties to develop a common understanding of ideas and concepts and consequently to work together more smoothly.”
How, for example, are these findings incorporated into sales? Have you already gained experience with this?
“The model has proven itself very well in sales. The job of salespeople is the translation of the marketing message to a very specific customer, who is present here today. Especially in the B2B sector we are dealing with all types of customers: owners, buyers, technicians, controllers, managers and so on. And often we have to convince everyone of our brand. In my sales training, salespeople learn how to quickly recognize these different types of people and synchronize their subconscious communication style in order to present their message with the appropriate reward system. This does not mean that a salesperson has to bend, but only that s/he must make one or two steps towards his opposite. Those who show appreciation will receive valuation. And those who reward shall be rewarded – with lucrative orders, solid customer relationships and professional joy.”
Which experience with HBDI ™ do you remember most?
“The salvation of a company that was nearing its dissolution. Both owners had very different HBDI ™ profiles, which led to major conflicts. Having understood their differences, they learned to value them rather than devalue them. They are now working together synergistically, complementing each other instead of blocking each other. Today, the company is again stable and earns brilliant figures.”