Some of the best ads are so because they strike a cord. They hit on some emotional nerve, whether its joy, fear, sympathy or sadness, anger, and the list goes on.

In fact, the author of "Unconscious Branding: How Neuroscience Can Empower (and Inspire) Marketing," Douglas Van Praet, once wrote "Emotions don't hinder decisions. They constitute the foundation on which they're made."

Emotional responses to branding and advertising have more influence over a person's intent to buy than the actual content of the ad. But, for it to work there has to be a connection and the only way to ensure you establish that is through deeply understanding the customer.

This is why the Rocket Mortgage Super Bowl ad was so genius. They took a strong pain point --in this example, the complexities of getting a mortgage --and left you thinking they understand most people don't like the mortgage process. It delivered the perfect combination of emotion and customer experience (CX), leaving you feeling like, "Hey, this brand really gets me."

Emotion will attract, customer experience will sustain

After the emotional appeal of a brand wears off, what is left? It's the brand promise. The experience you deliver to that customer.

The team behind this ad used humor --expertly delivered by Keegan-Michael Key -- to hook the viewer, then tapped into a deeper emotion: frustration. They played on the needlessly frustrating, overly complicated and confusing situations we deal with on a day-to-day to show they understand the customer journey.

And this is where customer experience came into play.

The Rocket Mortgage ad is, at its core, is about the customer experience and the promise they are making for a simplified approach to shopping for a loan. But, the brand's understanding of the customer goes layers beyond the commercial, they actually did the legwork to uncover the greatest pain points around shopping for a loan and reinvented the process.

Putting the customer at the core of everything you do

When you're shopping for a loan, you're bombarded with confusing terminology that often leaves you feeling like you never truly know what you're signing your name to. A terrifying thought.

A simpler, more straightforward and transparent process is an exponentially better experience for the customer. And that process is the app or product itself.

The interesting part is, the end result is the same -- a loan. However, the experience makes one loan (product) more valuable because of the simplicity provided to the user. It's the usability, the user experience (UX), the thoughtfully crafted messaging used, the micro-copy used at every touchpoint inside of the app or product --it's everything.

Let's face it, brands are no longer in control. The tables have turned. In today's app-driven world, it's the customer who has set the new standard.

The brands that understand this and how crucial it is to put the customer at the core of every decision will win, or at the very least survive. Those that don't, will fade away.

Now, an easy-to-use interface and straightforward messaging are table stakes. The brands that are truly differentiating themselves are the ones who have figured out the true pain points of their customer and completely challenging the status quo.

CX is impacting all areas of business

No business or brand is immune to producing a great customer experience. This goes for industry behemoths or incumbents who may be thinking they've cornered a majority of the market and are doing fine, and those that provide back-end support.

Even if you're not a B-to-C-facing company, CX must become a priority. When you approach decision making with the customer at your core, it often simplifies internal processes and operational procedures.

In the case of Rocket Mortgage, they've eliminated the need for paper, reduced the time to close, and removed the fees associated with brokers and loan officers. And all of this in turn, is delivering better value (experience) for the customer (homeowner).

Customer experience --simplicity -- has become their brand differentiator and they've leveraged it to streamline operations. How do you compete against that?

Bravo to Rocket Mortgage for getting it right this year.

Published on: Feb 7, 2018
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.