In 2010 I published my first marketing book called Do A Madonna: The Secret to Successful Branding. Do a Madonna is aimed at new businesses with a gap in marketing knowledge and is written in a light-hearted and humorous tone. The book is currently being edited and rebranded and due to be launched in 2016. In light of Madonna’s amazing performance and go-get attitude last night at The Brits, I felt this was an ideal opportunity to give you an insight into the book.

Testimonial: “Everything in DO A MADONNA! is so true! I’ve read many other branding books, however, DO A MADONNA!™ looks at branding in an entirely different way and it is so easy to digest. I work as part of the sales team for the Shropshire Star and I have recommended this book to all of my sales colleagues.” Debbie Marks, Shropshire Star.

Below is an excerpt from Chapter 4 – It’s OK to get emotional. Download book information.

Eighty per cent of purchases are inspired by emotion, then justified by logic. Therefore, it is important to create an emotion in your branding because emotions become memories – good or bad. Humans have five senses: smell, touch, sight, taste and sound and stimulating these senses will create an emotion.

Your website must look top-notch because sight is the only sense that a potential client will experience when they first visit your website. Similarly, your brochures need to pre-sell your business; the added bonus of brochures is that your potential customer will ‘touch’ your brochure. So it is worth investing in good quality printing and stock if you want to tap into these senses.

When you meet your potential customer in person, you will see and hopefully listen to them. You will touch them when you shake hands – and you will remember if someone has a strong, weak or sweaty handshake. You and your customer may experience taste at your first meeting if you go for coffee or lunch.

Does your business service create a positive or negative feeling?

Restaurants have an added advantage over some industries when it comes to creating an emotion as their services and products stimulate the five senses and hopefully people enjoy the experience. Doctors, dentists, accountants, tax specialists and insurance companies have a tougher job because their services may stimulate the senses in a negative way and are essentially less enjoyable.

To help explain the emotional side of branding to you, I am going to tell you about a trip to London. Please remember that this book was written in 2009 so the quality of some services may have changed since. From the minute I woke up to the minute I returned home to bed late at night, I sampled the services of many businesses – and the way I was treated created a roller coaster of emotions – a mixture of good and bad branding. The objective of my trip to London was to see Nigel Harman in a play called Public Property, at The Trafalgar Studios (previously known as Whitehall).

My day began …

I woke in a good mood and was looking forward to well-deserved day off. Thanks to my reliable and brilliant iPhone alarm, I awoke on time. A good start to the day, thanks to the technology and sleekness of my iPhone (good feeling number one). I showered using my brand new Soap and Glory shower gel which smelled and felt as good as the packaging promised. Gorgeous! This was going to be a good day (good feeling number two).

I ventured downstairs to divert the studio phones to our virtual secretary. I instructed them that I would be out of the office until the following day. They were as friendly and efficient as always and felt pleased I had hired them (good feeling number three).  I walked to our local train station where I was greeted by a grumpy ticket sales assistant. I parted with almost £14 for a day return (off peak) then sat on the platform in the windy, damp shelter. The shelter smelled of stale smoke, stale urine and generally unpleasant odours. I inspected the latest graffiti offerings. The shelter made me feel dirty and I couldn’t wait for the train to arrive. I would have stood outside the shelter if it hadn’t been raining. My good mood was starting to decline (bad feeling number one).

The train arrived on time. I found a seat and travelled in reasonable comfort to London Victoria. This was helped with the aid of a paper cup of peppermint tea from the buffet cart. I was pleasantly surprised that peppermint tea was on offer but horrified that it cost £1.40 for a teabag and water. It’s what you may call a bittersweet experience (almost good feeling number four).

Before continuing with my onward tube journey to Aldwick East, I decided to use the London Victoria toilet facilities. I parted with a further 30p for the privilege. The toilets were clean plus they had Dyson hand dryers so I felt that 30p was value for money (good feeling number five).

At the underground, I checked my Oyster card which still had £11 on it – a nice surprise. I love the convenience of an Oyster card (good feeling number six). I arrived at Aldwick East and I had planned to meet my friend after he finished at Brick Lane so I planned to spend the afternoon exploring the textile shops in Brick Lane, which I had imagined to be romantic, hustly-bustly and a cultural place. After fifteen minutes I was disappointed – Brick Lane felt dirty and unappealing – the weather probably didn’t help (bad feeling number six). Can you see how an external emotion can affect a potential customer’s behaviour even before he or she has met you?

After some exploring, I located my friend’s workplace near the Truman Brewery and made a mental note of the location. I then stumbled across a young-fashion designer outlet called The Laden Showroom. Things were looking up again (good feeling number seven). Fifty-eight pounds lighter and one gorgeous dress heavier, I asked the sales assistant if there was anywhere to hang out for an hour or so. He suggested All Star Lanes which happened to be next door. I ventured in and – wow! My emotional roller coaster was now in heaven. All Star Lanes was a tasteful American diner with a difference. I was greeted as soon as I arrived and I asked for a glass of something white and chilled. I sat down in the depths of the diner – to protect my new designer purchase from pickpockets – word of mouth had warned me to be careful in London …

My book continues to describe the day with some interesting results.

So how is the above relevant your business?

Now, you may wonder how you can apply the above to your business … I like many suffer from dentist phobia – that is until our dental practice had a re-brand. Now, its funky reception area is a pleasure to sit in and more importantly, the dentists are really friendly – in fact, you almost forget you are at the dentist – they make you feel like VIPs. Now I enjoy my experience at Strand Dental in Worthing. So even if your business does not offer a glamorous service or product, there is no excuse not to create a good experience.

I challenge the nation’s businesses to re-brand their reception areas if they are not already gleaming. Whichever kind of business you are in – law, accounting, car mechanics or toolmakers, now is the time to create a positive emotion and impress your customers. It doesn’t matter whether you are located in the back street of the worst town in Britain; you can still pimp-up your reception area.

So bin those nasty ornaments and those smelly old files that are propped up on your bookshelf. Rebranding your reception area doesn’t have to cost the earth. If you don’t have a clue about design, then hire someone who has. Check out The British Institute of Interior Designers for an interior designer in your area. It will be worth it because once you’ve impressed a potential customer with your shiny new website, you need to continue the good experience and you don’t want to let them down with a shabby reception area.

Create the best experience

Once you’ve pre-sold your product you don’t want to let your customers’ expectations down or that would be breaking your brand promise. You’ve created an emotion, albeit trust, charm, passion, love, warmth, calm. These are all emotions that will end in bitter disappointment if the experience is wrecked by inconsistency or a lousy service or bad product. See more about this in Step Seven: Brand promise – Can you walk the walk? Remember, if you are the proud owner of a shiny, brand new brand, you need to ensure that you don’t let people down. You have created an expectation and your customers will feel attached (practising Buddhists excepted) if you have branded successfully. Remember too, that you need to appeal to the economic decision maker – whether it’s the head of the family or the MD of a business.

Remember at the start of the book I suggested that we all dress a certain way to meet the family, or an ex, and so on? Well, now you need to dress your product or service in appropriate clothing – to create a good emotion (impression). Your product or services ‘clothing’ will be your marketing collateral, e.g. your website, and your brochure will pre-sell your product or service. So make sure you hire a professional creative agency to ensure your business, product and service look their best!


  • Eighty per cent of purchases are inspired by emotion, then justified by logic
  • Remember the five senses: smell, touch, sight, taste and sound – try to create experiences that stimulate these senses to help your customers to remember you
  • Remember how do you feel when you use other business services? Write down your emotions and use these experiences to improve your processes and systems
  • Re-brand your reception area to impress customers
  • Have some fun in your branding exercises.

If you enjoyed reading this excerpt and you would like a copy of the book, please send me £6 via Paypal (email address vicky@thebrandsurgery.co.uk) and I will send you a copy to your email address.

Alternatively, The Brand Surgery is offering a 40 minute branding consultation to a limited number of businesses. Apply here.