How Do Emotions Affect Marketing?

What do people feel when they think of your product? If the answer is not good (or other positive words), then you may need to rethink your branding strategy. Why? Because people tend to remember and buy products that make them feel good. If something makes people feel good, then to them it must be a good pick. So how do you make people feel good about your product? The answer, my friend, is Emotional Branding.

Apple’s Aura

Consider Apple. What is it about Apple products that make them so freaking irresistible to Apple fanatics? Do people buy Macs, iPhones, and iWatches because they’re really superior to other brands? Do you really think people want the iPhone 12 because it has A14 Bionic, “the fastest chip in a smartphone” or it has “Ceramic Shield front with four times better drop performance?” Not really, right? They’re buying it because it’s an Apple product. Sounds so simple. But how does Apple make people think and act this way?

Marketing experts say it’s because of the tech juggernaut’s iconic branding which has built a cult-like following. Seductive copy and website that make Apple fans drool. The aura of secrecy builds up hype for their product launches. The air of premium exclusivity it evokes when launching a product. Sleek and elegant designs that exude luxury. All these are what Apple users are really paying for.  It’s what makes people buy them even if they’re way more expensive. It’s why Apple fanatics don’t mind waiting in line for hours to be one of the first to own the latest iPhone.

Apple is not really selling computers and gadgets. It’s selling a status symbol. It’s selling exclusivity. It’s selling belongingness to a creative elite group. By doing so, they’re tapping into the emotions of consumers. It is subtle Emotional Branding at its finest. 

So What is Emotional Branding?

Emotional branding is a marketing strategy where a company establishes a relationship with its target market through how they experience the brand. In other words, it’s a mix of marketing factors deliberately pieced together to create a certain brand aura. This “aura” evokes specific positive emotions when people think of the brand. Coca-Cola calls to mind happiness. Nike inspires aspiration. What does your brand encapsulate?

Don’t confuse emotional branding with emotional advertising. Emotional advertising is part of Emotional Branding. Emotional advertising directly uses emotional appeal to a particular ad or campaign to rouse particular emotions (positive or negative) from the target market. Advertisers usually incorporate current events (for relevance) and emotions (to appeal to the subconscious) into their ads.

Take for example Uber’s “Thank You For Not Riding” ad during the Covid-19 pandemic. The commercial shows people locked down at home is a heartfelt ad that tugs at the heartstrings. Then it catches viewers by surprise by saying “Thank you for not riding” at the end, implying that Uber cares more for your safety than their bottom line. Who would advertise to not use their product? Only Uber, and that makes the emotional impact even more powerful. It’s an example of emotional advertising, but at the same time it contributes to its emotional branding (and Uber’s rebranding.)

Why Does Emotional Branding Work?

Harvard Professor Gerald Zaltman, author of “How Customers Think: Essential Insights into the Mind of the Market,” has the answer. He said 95% of buying decisions are made subconsciously.  This means marketing strategies must work on selling to Miss Instinct rather than to Mr. Logic. But we can’t just brush aside Mr. Logic. Because although neuroscience confirms that people buy with emotions, people also justify their buying decisions with logic. But still, the fact remains. Your target market’s emotions and subconscious hold the key to unlocking your prospect’s wallets for your brand. That’s why Emotional Advertising and Emotional Branding work.

So How Do You Build Emotional Branding?

Begin by asking, what do you want people to feel or think when they think of your brand? What emotions does your brand evoke when people think of your brand? You can’t leave it to chance. You need to sculpt this brand image through the use of a mix of visual and non-visual branding components and techniques. Consider your brand’s logos and icons, fonts and color scheme, and design and user experience. These can conjure up particular associations. So be sure these elements are in harmony with the emotional branding you’re aiming for and keep this branding consistent.

Beyond the optics of shaping your brand, you also need to consider the abstract attributes. The story of your brand, your engagement with your market, your content, etc. are also avenues where you can manifest your emotional branding.

How about your brand? What are you doing to develop your emotional branding?