Brand Practice.

The world is little, people are little, human life is little. There is only one big thing—desire. –Willa Cather, Song of the Lark

Many of my friends, colleagues, and family members know I have a thing for shoes. Specifically, finely crafted shoes that whisper, “I am very expensive but unless you know, you will never know.”

So for my birthday this year, I decided to treat myself to a once-in-a-lifetime gift: a pair of pointy-toed silver studded flats by Christian Louboutin.

They are a magnificent creation—the perfect mix of badass and beautiful; comfortable and dressy; red carpet and city pavement. There is something so thoughtful and refined about the details of these shoes that I would go as far as to call them “sculptural.” The precious studs sparkle like tiny stars when I look down at them.

Few brands make us feel quite this emotional. Those who succeed have figured out how to connect, knowing just what their customer thinks and feels. Given the chance (and resources), brands will strike at the deepest level possible, to forge a long-lasting relationship with their targets. This is the norm–a “best practice” that isn’t always discussed in an obvious way, but informs many of the decisions a business makes–because that kind of love will lead to better results (read: higher profits).

Desire and force between them are responsible for all our actions; desire causes our voluntary acts, force our involuntary. –Blaise Pascal

For advertisers and marketers, desire is exactly what they’re going for. 

Most marketers think business decision-makers base buying decisions on data alone. But earlier this year, Gyro chief executive and chief creative officer Christoph Becker pointed out, “In B2B today, more and more of the big decisions are emotional with a proven 60 per cent of business interactions and decisions coming from the gut.”

Could emotion have the final say? Research from Google, in partnership with Motista and CEB, summarized in a recent survey that if a buyer is emotionally connected to a brand, it’s highly likely they will purchase from that brand. And if the customer perceives personal value for themselves, they will pay a higher price.

In the B2B space, emotions actually matter more than reason. Marketers need to recognize this.

Every day, creators from all walks of life explore possibilities to make things that will earn “desire-worthy” status in the eyes of their audience. They gather information, problem-solve, research, study, design, write, analyze and build.

At the deepest level of all of this activity, they are setting out to create a feeling of desire: desire to have, to watch, to share, to read, to participate, to buy. They work to keep the flame of desire burning–or to ignite it.

Discourse can never articulate the whole truth about desire: whenever discourse attempts to articulate desire, there is always a leftover, a surplus. –Jacques Lacan, The Four Fundamental Concepts of Psychoanalysis

Neuroscientists have figured out that there are chemical reactions that happen in the brain when specific centers are activated. Yet, the truth about desire is not rooted in science, it’s rooted in the ever-mystifying and complex human psyche.

“Desire” manifests in many ways. It can apply to anything that makes someone say, “I love this,” “I need this,” “I want this,” “I want to remember this,” “I want to share this,” or “I must do this.”

Trying to break “desire” down into perfect little pieces of data and logic will get you lost in the woods, perhaps draining resources along the way. The math won’t add up. 

The force of desire is not reasonable, or easy to reason with. You feel it or you don’t.

This post was edited from the original version for clarity and context. 

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