I Second That Emotion – the Role Emotion Plays in Branding

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There was recently an interesting Twitter post by online marketing guru Kim Garst“Inspiration is the number one most shared type of content across every social media platform.”

Think about the implications of that. Evoking a positive, uplifting emotion gets a big response from people, which they readily share. Now apply this principle to marketing.

Successful brands inspire an emotional response in members of their target audience. You can promote the superior features and benefits of your product or service all day long, but if you don’t hit consumers right in the feels, you’re missing out. Learning the art of emotional branding can help you win their hearts – and their loyalty.


Speaking of customer loyalty …


Brand loyalty is at an all-time low, observes Owen Frivold for Hero Digital, but “… values-driven connections are tipping the scale for customers across generations. Euclid reports that a brand’s alignment with the customer’s personal values is important to 52% of millennials, 48% of Gen X, and 35% of baby boomers. For younger consumers, an emotional CX strategy is even more important: 56% of Gen Z customers say that a fun in-store experience influences where they shop.”

However, according to CEO Magazine, “When emotional branding is executed well, it can result in a customer base that is more akin to a fan base. These ‘fans’ are so invested in the brand that their loyalty is almost unbreakable. In fact, customers can evangelise a brand and act as a de facto sales force in their own community.”

Word to the spelling police who may be doing a double-take: CEO Magazine is based in Sydney, Australia.


Brand identity is essential to smart emotional branding


Emotional branding refers to the practice of building brands that appeal directly to a consumer’s emotional state, needs and aspirations. It’s successful when it triggers an emotional response in the consumer that cannot fully be rationalized.

If your brand already has a strong identity, you’re at least halfway there. Smart emotional branding can get you the rest of the way. In the words of style expert Julie Cunningham, “Be yourself, only on purpose.” It’s just a matter of identifying how you want your target market to feel about your brand, then amplifying that quality.


Is your brand inspiring?


Aspirational? Adventurous? Nurturing? Reassuring? Fun? Relaxing? Or perhaps it’s a combination – like the iPhone, which positions itself as inspiring, aspirational, adventurous and fun. Clodagh O’Brien provides other emotional touchpoints in her article for Digital Marketing Institute, including celebration and societal (empathy toward how social issues affect people).

Fortunately, emotional branding isn’t just for global brands – although many owners of small- to medium-size businesses may think the cost is prohibitive. As the popular saying goes, “A smile doesn’t cost anything.” It is possible for you to put a figurative smile on your branding (if happiness is the emotion you want to spark) to put a real one on the face of your customers and potential customers.

For example, food trucks appeal to our need to be nurtured, our need for connection (customers chat with each other in line, and with the cooks – as well as follow their favorite truck on social media and interact with its other followers) and our need for fun (that word again). Taking the extra steps to establish an emotional connection will have more locals than ever making sure they catch your truck at its next stop.


How to build an emotional branding strategy


Of course, many great minds have studied what goes into successful emotional branding.

We offer the following fundamentals.

Find your voice – “What you say is important, but don’t overlook how you say it,” advises Duct Tape Marketing. “Your company’s ‘voice’ is the language and personality you and your employees will use to deliver your branding message and reach your customers. Successful brands speak with a unique voice. Think about the brands you admire – what makes them unique? How do they communicate with you and other customers? What do you like about their voice?”

Stand for something – The brands you love usually stand for something. One example Duct Tape Marketing offers is Basecamp. This project management software was founded on the belief that “… most software is bloated and difficult to use. They don’t compete on features – they compete on usability. They have developed a reputation as a company that stands for easy to use software.” Although its industry is highly competitive, Basecamp has grown and maintained a loyal user community over the years.

Be consistent – According to Susan Gunelius, President/CEO of KeySplach Creative, a central goal of brand building is “… developing customer loyalty, which comes directly from activities that drive emotional involvement – consistently and persistently delivering your brand message and meeting customer expectations for your brand.”

This consistency applies to all brand touchpoints – advertising, social media, digital marketing, website, etc.

As an extreme example, a sarcastic social media post taunting the opposing team the day before the big game of your home team would be out of character for a business that focuses on establishing a positive vibe (no matter how much your followers might agree with the sentiment). On the other hand, a neighborhood sports bar’s social media accounts would be expected to be forthcoming with the establishment’s opinions about the opposing team.

Speak without words – Graphics and colors also convey emotion, as is well-documented. Our blog post, “How to Choose the Best Color Scheme for Your Website,” covers the effect color has on branding and emotion. Pay attention to your logo, as well, to ensure it conveys the right visual message. A brand that wants consumers to feel a Zen-like calm should have a logo consisting of clean, wavy lines and light shades of blue to convey water and sky. Sharp angles and primary colors produce the opposite effect.


Don’t you forget about me


Like all relationships, emotional branding can never be taken for granted. Reinforcing your brand’s bond with its target audience is an ongoing process, but one that will reward you with loyal customers.

Establishing relationships is easier than ever through the following means:

Virtual Stacks Systems can help your brand express itself to begin a beautiful relationship with consumers. To learn more about the wide range of digital marketing services we offer, click on these links for PPC advertising, website design and redesign, SEO marketing, review management services,  video production and much more!

Contact us today to get started.

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