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Intro to Emotional Branding- Great Brands Feel vs. Think

emotional branding feature

Emotional branding is real, ever-present and the most poignant way to connect with any audience. I believe that with my whole heart. Brands that resonate with their core audience call upon big “feels” to connect their message, product or ideals, and inspire that audience to then take action. Whether the motivation digs deep or hits a superficial nerve, it really doesn’t matter as long as the connection happens.

Identifying and measuring emotional motivators is not easily checked off, often times customers themselves may not even be aware of them. And since emotional branding positions itself opposite from feature/ benefit marketing, emotional triggers are typically different from what customers say are the reasons they make brand choices. What’s more, emotional connections with products are never consistent or enduring; they vary greatly by industry, brand, touchpoint, and the customer’s point of view in the brand relationship or journey. To put it simply, customers or any target audience you’re after, is incredibly fickle.

Emotional branding is not about thinking, it’s all about eliciting big feelings. Several random brands come to mind that are not necessarily feel good, but they are more than memorable and found their own special place in pop culture. They tapped into a timely relevance or place time and delivered a product or service that resonated with an audience. How about the 1980’s phenom, Garbage Pail Kids? What about the cringe-worthy video series Bum Fights? Objectively speaking, the 2016 is also a prime example of hitting a target audience with exactly the right message and position.

The 2016 Presidential Race- An Example of Strong Emotional Branding

The 2016 presidential race was a showcase of compelling, and emotional branding. It was run in a very different fashion and on deeply contrasting ideals from the 2008 election, I’m sure we can all agree on that. The emotional factors were contrastive and while in the past, a message of “hope” was the foundation of President Obama’s campaign, President Elect Donald Trump’s campaign position relied heavily on “change”. The nation’s touch points had evolved over the past eight years and the emotional branding tactics that the 2016 campaign tapped into was incredibly divergent, and they had to be. The campaign success is a finely honed and well executed example of emotional branding. You may love him, you may hate him, but Trump is masterful at being memorable. He crafted a persona and platform that resonated with the right audience that was willing to participate, and he did it well.

Tap Into Emotional Branding- 3 Simple Questions for Discovery & Development

How can you tap into a greater sense of emotional branding to help boost your brand? These quick questions are designed to lead you towards discovery, and ultimately, to shine a light on your brand’s emotional touch points. The better you can see your brand through your customer’s eyes, the better opportunity you have to connect. If you’re looking for additional info, I really enjoyed this article explaining the science of customer emotions from The Harvard Business Review.

1. What emotions do you strive to inspire?

Make a quick list of emotionally relevant words that describe your brand- trust, happiness, empowerment…just a few examples. Plan to focus on three to five key emotional drivers that you aspire to or want to move towards.

2. How does your brand connect with your target audience?

Branding is far from being just a logo. What does your brand position and all of its touch points) do to focus on the emotions that you want to inspire? Consider your web site, marketing materials, physical space, social media content, presentations, business cards…and yes, your logo.

3. What emotional connection opportunities does your brand offer?

Put some thought into how you are expressing your brand’s emotional side, both internally and beyond the walls of your company. Do your communications with customers and all of your contacts reinforce the “feel” you want? People need opportunities to connect with your brand in a tangible way. That may be through social media, meetings, events or other activations. Explore ways to increase your target audience’s exposure to the heartbeat of your brand. Make it memorable.


P.S. Your toolkit for creating an authentic brand story.




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