In today’s world of 24/7 news cycles and incessant chatter on social media, it’s no longer about how many messages you send your audience, but the quality of each message itself. Sure, you may succeed at getting your audience to remember your brand by name, but if you want them to have a clear mental image of and associations with your brand, you need to do something more than just pushing out promotional materials and marketing messages.

Of course, this begs the question: how?

A study published in the Harvard Business Review offers an answer, showing that developing an emotional connection between your brand and its target audience leads to desirable behaviors in the latter. That means that if you want to see your brand flourish, you need it to connect with your audience on a personal and human level – where it counts. Here are 3 ways to do just that.

1. Know Your Audience

While no two people will have the same exact emotional response to one brand message, you can and should create a brand voice that’s designed to reach out to specific audience. This is where a buyer or customer persona comes in, a semi fictional representation of your ideal customer. It’s a profile of your target audience, complete with information about what makes them tick, their motivations, struggles, and everything in between. Only then will you be able to predict how they think and feel and, therefore, how they’ll respond to and mentally piece together your branding efforts.

This is the kind of emotional branding mastery showed by a major bank referenced in the HBR study. The bank had released a credit card that inspired emotional connection, leveraging their desire to be part of something. The strategy had Millennials hooked, generating 40 percent new account growth and 70 percent increased use in the segment.

Deodorant brand Old Spice likewise flexed its grasp of audience targeting in the iconic “The Man Your Man Could Spell Like” ad campaign.

Deviating from tradition, the ads were addressed to a female audience – particularly women in relationships. Old Spice knew fully well that, even if the fact that their products are for men, it’s women that tend to influence their decisions on hygiene. Old Spice appealed to the need of women to see improvements in their partners and got them to engage in the very profitable behavior of buying body wash and deodorant for their men.

2. Tighten Your brand

It’s not unusual for new organizations still starting out to be a little rough around the edges when it comes to brand cohesion and know how to communicate their value to their audience. As time passes, though, and once you’ve acquired a feel of your audience you should be able to further file down your brand to a form it can sustainably take in the long run.

First, you have to whittle down your brand values – the stuff that all your branding material should be derived from and reflect. Shoot for a maximum of three values that are authentically true to the concept of your brand and those that belong to your audience (so, yes, more research).

Figuring out your brand values might seem like a lot of work, but do take note that a Harvard study found that shared values between a brand and its segment are the foundation of long-term relationships of trust between the two.

Another thing you have to establish is a color swatch for your brand. The process of doing so isn’t as arbitrary as it sounds. It’s actually quite technical, making it best to leave this sort of work to a graphic designer. Once you have this down, every piece of material that makes it to the public should display these colors and these colors alone. Do it long enough, and people will associate these colors with your brand—think red, yellow, and black for McDonald’s, red for Coca Cola, and purple and orange for FedEx.

What you’re aiming for here is consistency, and these are just two of the many for you to achieve that. If people can’t clearly picture your brand or hear a consistent voice in its messages, they won’t have a personality to connect with. Consequently, your brand won’t be able to properly position itself. Consistency gives your segment the chance to internalize your values.

3. Step Out of Your Comfort Zone

Your brand isn’t going to stand out if it remains stagnant, bland, and indistinguishable from the fold. But this doesn’t mean you should go full avant-garde on your branding material. All the research you’ve done on your segment with the two previous points should have established the bounds of what your comfort zone can be. Right outside of that is mostly unchartered territory and, more importantly, where your brand’s success can lie.

Dove set itself apart from other bar soaps when it stepped right out of the terrain of beauty advertising. Bar soaps aren’t usually branded as your partner in acceptance and self-love. In fact, this view is diametrically opposed to the usual approach of appealing to conventional beauty standards. It worked for Dove, though, because the risk they took was calculated and the gamble of deviance paid off.

An Authentic Brand Doesn’t Need to Be Expensive

Connecting with your audience doesn’t need to involve spending millions of dollars in marketing campaigns blasted and repeated through your channels for months on end. At the core of successful branding communication is substance – substance that works and that resonates with your audience.