Brand marketing often focuses on appealing to the logical and rational side of the consumer, but did you know you can appeal to the irrational side of the consumer as well? Emotional branding gives you a direct means for influencing consumer behavior by tapping into the way a product, service or brand makes the consumer appear or feel. When performed correctly, emotional bonding strengthens the ties a consumer has to a brand, making it easier for a devoted relationship to take place between the two parties. This bond also makes traditional marketing tactics more effective.
Why is Emotional Branding So Effective?
That’s because emotional branding takes customer loyalty to another level. It accomplishes this by tapping into the four foundational emotions: happiness, sadness, anger and fear (which encompasses surprise as well). Just as all colors are created from just three primary colors, all emotions are triggered through the melding of these four emotions, thereby making it easy for a seasoned marketer to tap into any consumer behavior they want and alter it through emotional branding.
How to Interpret the Four Basic Emotions
Before implementing emotional branding tactics in your campaign, you first have to understand how the four emotions alter consumer behavior.
Happiness — When we feel happy, we want to share that happiness and with brands, we want to share that brand. Tapping into the happy emotion with your content is brilliant for social media marketing i.e., virality. A study performed by professor of marketing at the Wharton School (University of Pennsylvania) Jonah Berger showed that out of 7,000 New York Times articles, the more positive an article was, the more likely it was to be e-mailed and shared. This has been described as the spirit of the gifter being embodied by the gift, or more plainly, happiness begets happy gifts of social sharing.
Sadness — Sad feelings cause us to empathize with others and reach out to form a connection. As far as emotional opposites go, sadness is about as far as you can get from happiness, but what is interesting is that many of the same areas of the brain light up for both emotions. In truth, they are flip-sides of the same coin. But unlike happiness, sadness produces neurological chemicals such as the stress-coping hormone, cortisol and oxytocin, an empathizing hormone specializing in human connection. Studies have shown that when sad content triggers these two hormones, consumers are more likely to give or spend money, or in other words, trust in a brand.
Anger — When a consumer feels anger from the content they take in, they become more stubborn (in addition to other primal reactions such as aggressive), especially online. For example, when confronted with an article reaffirming their own beliefs, one of two groups of people were then exposed to rude and derogatory comments left on the article by the opposing view. Those exposed to the rude content dug their heels in firmly on their stance, while the group that didn’t view these comments were less stubborn. The takeaway—negativity has a lasting effect on consumers that can be harnessed to reinforce your brand.
Fear — Fear is controlled by the amydgala, which also regulates our response to surprise as well. You probably know of the fight or flight response, but what is of interest to emotional branding is the fact that fear also creates a desperation in audiences. In short, they want something to cling on to, just the way a teenage boy hopes his date clings to him during a scary movie. In the right place with the right content around it, your brand can become a magnet of safety.
Five Tips for Effective Emotional Branding
With this understanding, you should have no problem implementing emotional branding to stoke the behavior you desire from your consumers. To help you along the way, here are five tips for emotional branding:
- Approach your audience from a more personal level. Don’t think of them as consumers buying a product, but rather as your friends. You want them to have the best experience possible so stay away from data delivery and focus more on creating a dialogue. Emotional branding works best on this level, so it’s important to know your demographic inside and out.
- Storytelling goes hand-in-hand with emotional branding, so if your content creation team isn’t utilizing this method for anything else, be sure that they use it for this aspect of the campaign. No other content delivery method works as well for creating emotional connections.
- Take a close look at the Sixteen Hot Buttons that Barry Feig talks about in Hot Button Marketing (sex, nurture, control, discovery, revalue, time, want for best, reinvention, intelligence, power, wishes, longing to belong, family value, etc.) and really figure out which work best for your brand. Then, push those buttons.
- End on a strong note no matter which emotion you are triggering. That last note of your campaign will be what lingers with the viewer, so be sure yours is ending on the right one. This makes it easy to blend emotions for multiple effects, such as sharing a sad story that ends on a happy note—you get the best of both worlds. Keep in mind that it’s not always where you start, but how you finish.
- Look closely at the content that gets the most shares in your industry. What is it that makes it so viral? The delivery method? The message? The context? The site it is shared on? Emotional branding creates a lot of virality, so setting it up to succeed through a well-planned launch will increase your chances of success.
No matter what your experience with emotional branding, one quick way to get started is to speak to your own emotions within the industry. You can also look toward bigger brands to get an idea of how they tap into the emotions of their consumers. Scale these up or down as needed and then tailor them to fit your own marketing message.
How are you connecting emotionally using your brand message?