Emotional Branding: How Brands Win Hearts and Minds
- All effective emotional branding starts by asking questions about your audience.
- Telling stories about the struggles your customers go through is a powerful way to tap into their emotions.
- Social responsibility is a significant issue, and customers are looking to brands to advocate for marginalised voices and global problems.
Emotional branding is a distinct part of marketing in its own right. Rather than pushing product features or specifications, emotional branding focuses on resonating with consumers at a deeper, more personal level. This type of marketing can help brands stand out in competitive markets, but it’s an art that needs to be perfected.
Read on as we delve into how you can leverage its power to win the hearts and minds of customers.
Understanding emotional branding
Emotional branding isn’t about selling products—it’s about selling dreams, experiences, and a sense of belonging.
It’s a strategy that puts the consumer at the centre, treating them not just as people with money to spend but as individuals with unique emotions, values, and stories. Brands that excel in emotional branding don’t just provide a service or a product. They offer an emotional experience, tell a story, and become an integral part of the consumer’s own narrative.
The psychology behind emotional branding
Emotions, not logic, often dictate purchasing decisions, and by tapping into these emotions, brands can build stronger, more enduring connections with their audiences. The science is clear: emotional responses to advertising have a much greater influence on intent to buy.
The field of neuromarketing has shed significant light on this phenomenon. It uses neuroscience to understand consumer behaviour:
Studies using fMRIs have revealed that when consumers evaluate brands, they primarily use parts of their brains that process emotions, personal feelings, and experiences rather than parts that process information about the brand’s attributes and features.
Emotions are also critical for memory formation. According to the Peak-End Rule, people tend to remember the most intense (peak) point and the end of an experience more vividly than the rest of it. By eliciting strong emotions during consumer interactions, brands can make their products more memorable.
In essence, the effectiveness of emotional branding is underpinned by our emotional, often subconscious, responses. Whether it’s the instinctive desire for pleasure or the emotional component of our memories, understanding these psychological processes can help brands build deeper, more meaningful connections with their consumers.
By speaking to the hearts of the audience, brands can inspire loyalty and affection that transcends the typical customer-business relationship.
The role of colour in emotional branding
As well as reaching the emotional parts of our brains, emotional branding can also leverage our concepts of colour to influence our responses.
Each colour can evoke a particular set of feelings and emotions in the viewer, making the selection of brand colours a critical decision in your branding strategy. It is one of the first elements consumers notice about a brand, and it plays a significant role in their perception and memory of the brand’s offering.
- Red, for example, is a high-energy colour that can invoke feelings of passion, excitement, and urgency. It’s frequently used by brands wanting to make a bold statement or provoke an immediate response, such as Coca-Cola or Netflix.
- Blue, on the other hand, is often associated with calmness, trust, and stability. Brands like Facebook and LinkedIn use blue to convey a sense of reliability and professionalism.
- Green is typically associated with nature, growth, and health, making it an ideal choice for brands in the environmental or wellness sectors, such as Whole Foods or Tropicana.
- Yellow exudes warmth, positivity, and creativity and is used by brands like Snapchat or IKEA to convey a cheerful and welcoming atmosphere.
The key to effective use of colour in emotional branding lies in understanding your target audience and the emotional message you want to convey. Cultural context should also be considered, as colour meanings can vary significantly across different cultures. To learn more about the psychology of colour, check out our article that goes into further detail.
When chosen wisely and used consistently, colours can significantly enhance your brand’s emotional connection with consumers, driving brand recognition and influencing purchasing decisions.
Learn from the best: Dove’s Real Beauty campaign
Dove’s Real Beauty campaign is an excellent example of emotional branding and is, therefore, a great case study for us to learn from.
Launched in 2004, the campaign started with a global study titled The Real Truth About Beauty: A Global Report, which revealed that only 2% of women around the world would describe themselves as beautiful.
In response to these findings, Dove began featuring women of all shapes, sizes, and ages in their ads, focusing on their natural, authentic beauty. Plus, they released a series of enlightening videos that made people rethink their ideas about beauty.
For example, this video revealed the extent to which pictures of women are Photoshopped.
Nine years later, Dove was still releasing powerful videos. In 2013, it released the Real Beauty Sketches, in which a forensic sketch artist drew women first based on their own self-descriptions and then based on descriptions by strangers. The sketches starkly contrasted, with the strangers’ descriptions resulting in much more flattering and accurate portrayals. The outcome of this exercise was an understanding among the participants that women are often their harshest critics when it comes to their appearances.
The Real Beauty campaign struck a chord with consumers globally by promoting a more inclusive definition of beauty and encouraging self-confidence and body positivity. Dove didn’t just sell soap or lotion; they sold the idea of self-love and acceptance, creating a strong emotional bond with their audience.
Simultaneously, they put a mirror to societal issues, instigating conversations about how self-esteem is impacted by beauty standards. This campaign is a powerful example of how a brand can win hearts and minds by addressing personal problems and societal issues and promoting positive change.
How to leverage the power of emotional branding
Want to run a campaign as impactful as Dove’s? We’re about to dive into how you can execute emotional branding effectively. Firstly, here are some crucial best practices:
5 best practices for emotional branding
1. Understand your audience
The first step of your emotional branding journey should be to understand your audience:
- What drives them?
- What pains them?
- What issues might they empathise with?
Use market research and customer data to gain answers to these questions and gather your findings into a buyer persona. Then when you’re drawing up ideas for new campaigns, you can keep this buyer persona in the centre of your brainstorm. Always going back to this core will ensure you’re creating messages that will resonate with your brand’s audience.
2. Use the form of storytelling
Once you’ve done your research, it’s time to get your messaging out there.
The form of stories is very powerful for forging emotional connections, as people connect more strongly with stories than with facts or figures. So, create some storytelling content that speaks about your brand values, mission, or history.
Like Dove, you might choose to tell the stories of individuals within your target demographic so consumers see themselves in your campaign.
3. Consistency is key
Like with all kinds of branding, consistency is key. Across all touchpoints, your brand image should use the same colours, logo, and messaging. Of course, each of your touchpoints will vary slightly (e.g., your website’s About page is likely to be lengthier than your Instagram bio), but their essence should be identical.
Consistency is essential because it builds familiarity, and familiarity breeds trust. A consistent brand image also ensures that your audience recognises and remembers your brand.
4. Get visual
Visuals can evoke powerful emotional responses. Make use of compelling, emotive visuals in your branding to connect with your audience on an emotional level. These could be the faces of people, animals, or environments.
For example, the memorable running horses that appear in every advert for Lloyds bank evoke feelings of freedom and possibility.
5. Involve customers in your narrative
Dove’s campaigns were successful because their demographic was at the centre of their stories. The women involved were first shown as victims, then as heroes. The campaigns were a demonstration of how Dove can help its customers overcome challenges, achieve their goals, and fulfil their aspirations (even though none of its products were featured).
Involving customers can be highly effective in fostering strong emotional connections between brands and audiences as long as they’re represented fairly and accurately.
Incorporating these practices into your strategy can help you create a brand that resonates with your audience, drives customer loyalty, and sets you apart in a crowded marketplace. Remember, people don’t buy products; they buy emotions.
4 ways to connect through social media
One powerful way brands can connect with their audience nowadays is through social media. Instagram, TikTok, YouTube, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter all offer different ways to get your branding across to audiences.
But how can you best use social media to connect with potential customers and forge meaningful connections? Here are 5 ways how brands can leverage social media for emotional branding:
1. Get back to followers
One way audiences can feel seen by a brand is if they respond to comments and queries. Responding to comments, answering queries, and engaging in conversations shows that you value your audience rather than keeping a wall up between you.
Any responses should be real and personable, as this will humanise your brand and make it more accessible to potential customers.
2. User-generated content (UGC)
Another way brands can connect with audiences is by sharing content created by them. This can range from customer testimonials, photos of your products in use, or stories about positive experiences with your brand.
UGC has a wonderful ability to foster a sense of community and create personal connections with your brand.
3. Behind-the-scenes content
Giving your audience a sneak peek into the workings of your company can help them feel connected and involved with your brand on a deeper level.
It could be a tour of your workspace, a day in the life of an employee, or the process behind creating a product.
4. Discuss social issues
Showing support for social causes that align with your audience can bolster their connection with you. Whether it’s environmental sustainability, social justice, or mental health awareness, taking a stand shows consumers that you care about more than just profits.
Since this can be such a powerful motivator for emotional branding, we discuss it in more detail in the next section.
Being mindful of social responsibility
In today’s socially conscious environment, consumers are increasingly looking beyond a brand’s products or services. They care about the brand’s ethical stance, its impact on society, and its commitment to making the world a better place. As such, demonstrating Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) has become an essential component of emotional branding.
Consumers want to align themselves with brands that share their values and ideals, and this includes issues such as environmental sustainability, social justice, and community development.
If your brand operates in a sector where it could potentially contribute to societal challenges, such as climate change, it’s crucial to not only recognise this impact but also actively demonstrate what steps you’re taking to mitigate it. Failing to address these issues could result in significant reputational damage and loss of customer trust.
Brands should proactively communicate their CSR initiatives. This can be done through various channels such as social media, company blogs, newsletters, and press releases. Sharing the progress of these initiatives, the challenges faced, and the impact made can help build trust and authenticity.
Additionally, brands can involve their consumers in their CSR initiatives. This could be through charity partnerships where a portion of each sale goes to a specific cause or through volunteering opportunities for consumers. Involving your audience in your CSR efforts not only strengthens your emotional bond with them but also makes them feel like they’re part of a larger, meaningful mission.
In summary, addressing social responsibilities isn’t just a good ethical practice—it’s also a sound business strategy. Proactively declaring your commitment to societal issues and demonstrating the actions you’re taking can help ward off potential backlash and instead foster a positive emotional connection with your consumers.
Measuring the effectiveness of emotional branding
You’ll want to know whether your campaigns are working, and branding is a notoriously difficult thing to measure. However, there are a few ways to quantify your results.
One way to do this is through sentiment analysis. Also known as opinion mining, sentiment analysis involves using AI and natural language processing techniques to analyse customer feedback, comments, and discussions about your brand across various online platforms.
As well as tallying up positive, negative, and neutral mentions, it helps you understand the emotional tone behind the words, giving a nuanced view of how your audience feels about your brand, products, or services and how those feelings change over time.
Comparing your brand sentiment with that of your competitors can give you valuable insights into your position in the market and help identify areas of improvement; however, sentiment analysis should not be used in isolation.
It can be complemented with other metrics such as customer engagement rates, brand recall, and customer loyalty metrics (like Net Promoter Score) to provide a more holistic view of your branding’s efficacy.
Emotional branding isn’t a fleeting fad—it’s a powerful shift in the world of marketing. In the battle for hearts and minds, those brands that can truly speak to the emotional lives of their audience come out on top. They build relationships that go beyond the product, beyond the service, to something deeper, more enduring.
If you’d like some help with your company’s branding, our team here at purpleplanet would love to help! Get in touch via the button below.