Emotional branding is nothing new. It’s been a tool of the marketing trade since the early 1900s with the widespread embrace of groundbreaking doctors like Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung who were determined to demystify the unseen world of the unconscious mind. People began to understand the wide range of emotions that drove their behaviors and influenced decisions. So, it’s a defining question when you’re in the throes of building a brand: what do I want my audiences to feel? It’s worth it to expand our emotional vocabularies which can sometimes be a bit limited. You may be missing key phrases that could inspire the entire look, feel and even purpose of your brand.
I recently came across a brilliant visual that maps human emotions. A tool like this is important in excavating a wide range of feelings that your brand can draw from. So instead of simply saying, “I want my audience to feel happy!” you’re able to do a deep dive into a spectrum of emotions and suddenly find their opposites: anxiety (feeling safe); disapproval (feeling accepted); powerless (feeling powerful). FedEx, for example, had used “frustration” as the engine to fuel behavior change for customers with commercials about competitors and their ineffective ways.
When you think of successful emotional brands, which companies come to mind? Nike is certainly at the top of the list with one of the most dedicated customer bases in the market. Then there’s Budweiser, Kodak, Coca-Cola—all global brands who have wildly successful at creating content that pulls on the heartstrings of consumers worldwide. Not only do they evoke happiness, but they also inspire more nuanced feelings including joy, hope, confidence and pride. Conversely, they attack other negative human emotions like fear, surprise and sadness. And check out this tear-jerker from Pzifer that invokes courage as its primary emotion. It’s not what you would expect.