Strategy is rational. Products are emotional.

Reno Wideson | Think Piece

Strategy is rational. Products are emotional. What does that mean for your brand? Let Strategic Product Management take the guesswork out of future planning.

KISKA product strategy director Reno Wideson
Reno Wideson

The best products play into brand. And brand is rooted in emotion. 

We have emotional connections to our favourite things. Prized possessions and treasured objects that we love owning and using. Or, in my case riding, because motorcycles fire me up. The reaction is visceral. Ask me to describe how a motorcycle performs, how it makes me feel, the moment it captured my heart, and you’ll see a spark. A flicker in my eyes. It’s an unconscious and involuntary reaction that exposes my passion.

That right there. That emotion. THAT’s product success. Why? Because the best products play into brand. And brand is rooted in emotion.

Yet, emotion is removed from the rationality, analysis, and consensus that is product development. With all of its sales targets, market potential reports, and pricing elasticity. Imagine capturing a feeling though. Owning it and having the processes that can combine it with a solid strategy. Then transforming it all into sharp products and brands – and a plan for future business success. Game. Changer.

I know, because that’s what my team of Product Management Consultants do. We work hard to zone in on products that are uncompromisingly on-brand. From compiling market data and pinpointing emotional triggers, to nailing down what a brand can offer than no one else can. Then translate it all into products, portfolios and briefings that capture hearts.

Seems abstract, but it makes solid business sense. How? Because a high-performing portfolio does one thing really well: it keeps customers happy with 100% on-brand products. Following obvious trends won’t place you ahead of the curve. But, sharp brand focus and strategic clarity sure will.

High-performing portfolios do one thing well: keep customers happy.

Let’s use the mobility industry as an example. Right now, we’re finding companies are all interested in the same portfolio: e-scooter, moped, bicycle and kick-scooter. It’s a reaction to the surge in last mile and micromobility, as well as changing ownership models. The pursuit of obvious trends is tempting, but only results in a glut of bland vehicles. Real differentiation happens when companies are brave and bold enough to make products that are unique to the brand, at an emotional level.

All products should play into a brand’s business strategy. Doing so demands being brave, bold and sharp – and taking risks. It requires deep brand and customer understanding, innovative thinking, and expansive industry and market knowledge. Plus, ruthless prioritisation of opportunity. It demands your company answers the questions, “Does this product pay into our brand strategy? Will it rouse the right emotion in our customers?” If not, get rid of it. Then focus on the ones that do. No compromises.

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