Emotional Branding and Your Business

By Jessica Ann
June 18, 2014

It seems like a slam-dunk: show your competitor’s pricing and feature set besides your lower pricing and more robust feature set. Any viewer will see they should go with your product, right? Wrong. The missing link between that marketing approach and a successful one is paying attention to what emotional branding can do for your business. The key is to not only show the facts, but to tie them together with an emotional investment in your brand.

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We all understand that logic can lead to better decisions, but that doesn’t stop many from relying instead on emotion. The Vulcan aliens from Star Trek embraced logic in all areas of life, and often scoffed at the human reliance on emotions. The famous science officer and diplomat Spock was the son of a Vulcan father and a human mother. He knew the value of weighing each decision with appropriate amounts of logic and emotion. Good branding is like Spock, always keeping its logical and emotional foundations in mind.

Spock as Brand Manager

You can’t hire Spock as a brand manager, but you can use his lessons on embracing a dual nature to build a better marketing strategy. Few people will want to come right out and say they are emotional about their decisions, but that doesn’t make it less true. Instead, says Rick Sloboda in the linked article, you have to offer a logical hook people can use to rationalize their emotional decisions. But no one shows his or her friends a clever commercial because it’s logical. We share things because they make an emotional impact. And we want to share the experience of emotions.

This is why it’s important to focus on that emotional aspect of your branding – but not to lose sight of the need for a logical hook. Doing so can provide your customers with everything they need to make the  decision to go with your product or service.

The Pros and Cons of Emotional Triggers 

Positive emotional triggers aren’t hard to name. They’re things like love, passion, and innovation. According to author and behaviorist Barry Feig, these are ways of differentiating your product among a sea of equivalent competitors. Pressing such “hot buttons” will cause people to remember and prefer your brand.

But it’s not always a good idea to rely on an emotional trigger. Sometimes emotional branding should be approached with more nuance than simply stamping a name on the side of a product. Steve McKee of Bloomberg Businessweek once wrote about an experience he had taking his son to buy basketball shoes. The first pair his son chose looked perfect for the job. But the Dennis Rodman branding immediately turned McKee off. It no longer mattered to him that the shoes looked comfortable and had a sleek design. The Rodman association immediately altered McKee’s behavior despite his initially logical approach.

Emotional branding can do a lot for your business if you take the time to implement it. The primary issue to consider is what emotion is motivating your customers to buy products like yours. From there, it’s important to be consistent about which emotion you choose to incorporate into your branding. Eventually, you can get to the point where your logo on a product is enough to overcome logic and close a sale.

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