No matter how much of a stoic you may try to be, guaranteed, there’s something that tugs at your heartstrings.
It’s human nature. It’s also how we connect, as a species. Even if we’re in a foreign country and don’t understand the language, we understand a smile, a hug, or someone crying. It’s who we are. Even the Queen of England.
So when it comes to marketing, establishing those same types of connections will yield results. Maybe someone will get sad and change the channel, but if you strike the right chords, you’ll notice how more people reach out to you to purchase your goods or products.
And I’m not talking about being manipulative. After all, brand authenticity is a crucial element for customer loyalty. You want to connect in a way that aligns with your true values. But doing that takes a lot of strategic planning.
And yet, it behooves you to get it right, because while competitors may offer similar features and/or price points, emotional branding may be that extra boost that gets you across the finish line.
What Is Emotional Branding?
Emotional branding is a way to develop relationships with prospects and consumers. It’s done by relatable storytelling that humanizes your brand. Depending on the context, it can even make customers feel like your brand is part of their identity.
For example, think of the world-famous question: Are you a Mac or PC person? Other variations include Disney fans (especially those who live and breathe their magic), Nike (with their inspiring commercials of social justice) and Dove (with their inclusive Real Beauty campaign).
All of the companies mentioned above have competitors who offer comparable products. Some even are within an industry where consumers would be able to find lower prices. Yet, year after year, they continue being among the most successful businesses.
Emotional branding is even more important when you’re targeting millennial consumers.
This younger generation has expressed time and again that they are most interested in brands that help them live their values: For example, 73 percent of millennials said they are willing to pay more for offerings from companies devoted to social and environmental change.
As brands seek to adopt values, the right emotional tone makes them seem more believable.
B2B hasn’t escaped from this wave of change, either. More and more B2B product research roles are being taken up by millennials. They are stepping up as final purchase decision makers, too. Their decisions are sure to be shaped by their emotionally savvy approach.
Why Establishing Emotional Connections Matters in Marketing
Ok. So emotional connections make people feel good and all that jazz. But let’s take a closer look at why this happens.
It Develops Connections.
Connections are what makes things memorable. You aren’t just an ad on a computer screen or a social media post to scroll through.
When your target audience forms an emotional connection with your content, they are more likely to engage — maybe they’ll give you a like, or a follow, or comment, or share your content with their friends and family. You become much more than a brand that offers something practical.
It Builds Trust.
Remember how I mentioned brand authenticity at the intro of this blog? Here’s where you get to shine with it.
When you do emotional branding well — when it showcases your values and core beliefs — customers start seeing you as a business with integrity. As a result, you’re seen as much more trustworthy than a company who’s selling products/services just for the sake of selling. You have a purpose that goes above and beyond your bottom line.
It Improves Perception Within Your Target Market.
Consumers react based on their perceptions. And for them to have a good impression of your business, you have to provide content that fits with subjective factors, such as their personal beliefs, values, and aspirations.
How does your company fit into that picture?
The Target Audience Experiences a Sense of Wellbeing.
You want to make them feel good whenever they interact with your content. Emotional branding creates a sense of relatability — and when done correctly, a sense of urgency.
It’s not the same to say that a mobile phone has XYZ capabilities than it is to show an elderly person getting teary-eyed while video chatting with their grandkid who lives across the country.
It Establishes a Sense of Belonging.
Everyone wants to belong. Even people who pride themselves on being introverts or lone wolves want to connect with others at some point.
It’s what gives people the feeling of being supported. It’s a fundamental human need. And while marketing materials can hardly substitute connecting with a loved one, a shared ethos can make people feel validated.
How Emotional Marketing Works
For emotional marketing to work, you have to tell a story. And yes, that may sound like a new age cliché, but in reality, it’s been an effective method of persuasion since the times of Aristotle. Specifically, you have to pay attention to those three nifty concepts we learned about in college — ethos, logos, and pathos.
Communicate why you should be trusted. Sure, this can be based on your credentials, but what really impresses people is your ability to thoroughly understand your buyer persona. So, how are you going to show them that you do?
Emotional reactions alone aren’t enough. You still have to provide something that makes sense. Be practical and realistic. Never, ever try to insult people’s intelligence.
This is where you implement a message that triggers the emotional reactions. What are the two emotions that cause people to act?
Come on. You know this one: Love and fear. Jedi masters have been telling us all along since the beginning of time. (Well, Aristotle has, but so has Yoda).
This trifecta is the perfect combination of ingredients that you need to include in all of your marketing strategies.
Types of Emotional Branding
While all emotional branding makes people experience deep feelings and can improve brand awareness, there are different approaches to coming up with such content. Depending on what you’re trying to communicate, you may want to explore some of the following:
Think about the Olympics, the World Cup, or any type of event that celebrates humanity and/or shared interests — New York’s Fashion Week, Coachella, the Puerto Rican Day Parade, March Madness, Pride parades.
When you acknowledge the feelings of elation these celebrations bring, you validate the participants. Big event sponsors have been getting this right for decades.
Nostalgia makes us look at the past with rose-colored glasses. It makes us romanticize everything about our youth, and smile longingly as we remember how Goonies never die.
This evokes positive emotions that make people more receptive to what you have to say. It’s why all of these pop acts from the 1990s keep making millions from their reunion tours.
Customer satisfaction is absolutely crucial for any company. When you lack it, you become the Spirit Airlines of your industry.
But beyond that, emotional branding increases the sense of customer satisfaction and accelerates sales. Therefore, crafting marketing campaigns that bring forth feelings of wellbeing — such as warmth, excitement, or a feeling of accomplishment — will go a long way in making both you and your customers happy.
How to Connect With Customers Through Emotional Branding
Every business is different, so you want to take into account your specific circumstances when crafting a strategy to connect with your target audience. However, keep in mind the following tips to get you started:
Identify Your Target Market Emotional Triggers.
When you truly understand your buyers and their specific pain points, it’s easier to determine which emotions will resonate with them. It makes sense to start here since pains produce emotions — often very intense ones — and emotion is key to justifying any major purchase.
For example, if you have a software solution that serves a compliance-driven industry with little margin for error, then reliability is a key selling point. The feelings of calm and safety that come with knowing a competent brand is on your side may be the associated emotions.
Tell Relatable Stories.
You want to tell the kind of stories that get people to enthusiastically nod in agreement. You want to make them tear up a little, or imagine how their lives would be if they accomplished something they’ve been yearning for a long time.
Dare to Be Vulnerable.
Once upon a time, vulnerability was seen as a sign of weakness. Do not show your emotions, or you lose.
But Princess Diana showed the entire world that when you’re publicly vulnerable, you’re sharing your human side; your relatable aspects. Nobody really wants perfection. People know that doesn’t exist.
Identify Motivators Depending on the Stage in the Buyer’s Journey.
A person who’s just finding out about their pain points is not going to be motivated by the same things as a person who’s ready to buy. Therefore, you should craft ToFu, BoFu, and MoFu content to cater to each stage of the buyer’s journey.
For example, writing inspiring and educational blogs for those at the top of the funnel, while offering "what comes next" content for someone who’s about to become a customer.
Turn Your Customers Into Heroes.
You could’ve graduated from Harvard Law School and invented the next best thing. You’re on Forbes. You’ve been interviewed by Oprah. You went to space with Elon Musk and that other guy.
But what’s in it for your customers? Your mom may be impressed by all of your accomplishments, but your only job is to make your customers feel like they can take on the world.
Use Video Content.
After Google, YouTube is the most visited website in the world. This is not a coincidence. Humans are visual creatures.
And while written content can certainly elicit an emotional reaction, video content will do it faster — and it’s more likely to be watched when shared. Bonus points if you add some dramatic background music that either reminds viewers of a bygone era or gets them pumped up about what’s to come.
3 Examples of Emotional Branding Done Right
Let’s look at some examples of entities who have gotten this right. They don’t need any introductions, and you’ll likely nod your head in agreement as you take a closer look at their emotional branding strategies.
I don’t know how much Sarah McLachlan got paid for those ASPCA commercials, but you’d have to be straight out heartless not to feel anything while watching them.
And the campaign’s effectiveness is highlighted by the fact that the ASPCA’s fundraising efforts more than doubled.
Nike has been producing inspiring social justice campaigns since the 1980s — attempting to fight ageism, homophobia, misogyny, and systemic racism.
And while a minor portion of the population may get their feathers ruffled over them, the company still remains highly profitable.
Source: Blog Mickey
Disney has never been about just theme parks and cartoons. It’s all about the experience — making people feel good, happy, nostalgic — and it has managed to accomplish this across cultures, age ranges, and income levels.
When talking about Disney magic, the emotional connections are as real as they can get.
Hit Your Goals With Emotional Branding
So there you have it. Everyone likes the sense of belonging that comes with emotional connections. We know that. You know that. Admit it. You’ve made plenty of purchases in the past because some ad or another made you feel good.
And if you need a little help coming up with some content strategy ideas, we’re here to give you what you want. What you really, really want.
Alejandra Zilak is a content writer, ghostwriter, blogger, and editor. She has a bachelor's degree in journalism and a Juris Doctor. She's licensed to practice law in four jurisdictions and worked as an attorney for almost a decade before switching careers to write full time. She loves being part of the Bluleadz team and implementing SEO best practices with her content. When not working, she loves to read, write fiction, and long distance running.