People now make decisions based on their emotions. Developing an emotional branding strategy helps form the very fabric of your corporate identity.

How to develop an emotional branding strategy

‘Branding’ in business is about more than a logo. It’s a promise to your customers. Your brand is the symbol of your business. It’s born out of the sum of many parts: it’s what you sell and how well you sell it, it’s how you project your company’s image, it’s your level of customer service, it results from what your customers think of you, and how you interact with them in return.

Establishing a reputable brand is closely linked to creating an emotional connection with your audience and your customers – this is called developing an emotional brand. And this is done best when you include an emotional journey in every aspect of your brand’s development, from artwork and logos to slogans, to advertising forums and social media engagement.

Emotions work across both C2C and B2B sectors – in both, generating a direct emotional attachment can help build profitability and differentiate you from your competitors. Emotions matter more than ever in branding today, especially considering the general decline in brand loyalty. Involving customers in emotional branding can help demonstrate that you care about customers, and that you understand how they feel and what they believe in.

The old marketing paradigm THINK-DO-FEEL has shifted to FEEL-DO-THINK – people now think subconsciously with their emotions and make decisions based on those thoughts. Developing your own emotional intelligence can help you understand how your custoemrs might be feeling, and be able to empathize and engage with them more successfully.

Developing an emotional branding strategy

Emotional branding doesn’t happen by accident. It needs to be a strategic part of your marketing plan – and it needs to be factored in at the start of any business strategy. Branding isn’t something that should happen at the end of a development cycle to promote a product or service. It should happen at every stage of the consumer cycle and relate to every aspect of your busines strategy – from traditional advertising and marketing to your customer service initiatives and the way your staff engage with your customers.

Anything that affects your customers or your business can have an impact on your brand. As a result, business strategies need to be devised so that that you develop emotional branding that’s suited to your business and your customers. It should be geared towards developing a user experience that both feeds emotions and feeds off emotions.

In their commercial shown during the 2017 Superbowl, Google used the emotional attachment of ‘home’ to highlight how the company played a key role in the everyday lives of its users.

Coke’s ‘Pool Boy’ commercial feeds off that tried and tested girl-loves-boy theme but adds a twist to show the company’s modern and progressive side. It is also a great example of how humour can be used to trigger emotions.

Like these companies, your emotional branding should appeal to every aspect of your customers’ lives: their ego, needs and aspirations, their general emotional state. You need to develop business strategies that connect in these ways to your potential customers, be it through music, words, lifestyle, nostalgia, sport or another genre that really ‘speaks’ to your customers.

First, though, it’s important to understand what you’re trying to achieve. Witty local radio ads or viral campaigns can be just as successful as campaigns that have multi-million dollar budgets to hire Hollywood directors. It just depends on what your goal is, how memorable you want your brand to be and what emotions you choose to feed off.

The six stages of emotional branding

  1. Capture attention. How do you nurture interest in your brand? Who are you targeting? What emotions might those people respond to?
  2. Encourage purchases. How do you engage with a potential customer and encourage them to think about spending their money with you? How do you move from capturing their attention to ensuring they move forward with a purchasing decision? Much of this is to do with understanding the emotions that drive their everyday decisions. This is particularly important in the in-store environment. In a reatil store or in a customer-facing office environment, businesses have the opportunity to build the emotions related to the brand. This can influence intention to engage with your product or service, and to either buy in the moment or return to buy at a later date. A good example is IKEA, which has had considerable success in changing the emotional experience – and increasing sales – by simply altering a store’s layout. This is where sensory marketing can be important.
  3. Develop a relationship. This stage is about reassuring your customer that they made the ‘right’ decision when they spent their money with you. This stage can help you …
  4. Develop customer loyalty. Turning a one-off purchase into a regular purchase helps build brand loyalty and increases the lifetime value of that customer to your business. This stage is about adding customer incentives or loyalty offers, and up-selling/cross-selling your products to existing customers.
  5. Make your brand part of your customer’s life. You are looking to develop a deep and long-lasting engagement with your customer. Once you have done this you can …
  6. Benefit from word of mouth business that comes from loyal customers who provide free advertising and referrals for you. In the same way that we invest in our image by advertising, we need to invest in customer service and support as this impacts on emotional memory and your word of mouth image. Without good memories of an experience, no one will remember it or recommend it. All the ads in the world will not change this. Apple is a good example. It has built its reputation on positive customer experiences. Any products or customer experiences that fall short of expectations risk negative word of mouth feedback.

How emotions power branding

Many brands have understood the power of emotion and take full advantage of it. They develop emotional branding that results in memorable ads that help form the very fabric of their corporate identities.

Apple has used emotional branding successfully throughout its history to set it apart from its competitors. This early 1990 campaign played on the brand’s ‘Think different’ approach, using famous and well-loved peronalities from scence, sport, and politics to drive home its message.


Nike’s marketing executives have used their corporate power to support issues they knows are important to their customers. By taking a moral stand on issues such as equality – and relating them back to the sectors in which it competes (sports clothing), the company engages on an emotional level customers and is seem as a ‘leader’ in its market not just commercially but also morally.

Nike ad celebrating Mo Farah Olympic wins

Mercedes is another company that uses emotions to feed everyday stories that convince customers of the reliability of its cars. These ads are a complete packages: stories, words, pictures and music that combine to draw the customer into the story and make them feel part of the Mercedes experience.

Importantly for all these successful brands, however, is their ability to deliver. Apple, Coke and Mercedes don’t just provide inspiration and build the expectations of their customers, they also have solid products that deliver for their customer base and meet these expectations.

How you can build your emotional brand

The data you capture about your customers can help unlock their emotions and help you to build an emotional brand that will appeal to them. But you need to know what questions to ask and how to interperet the results.

Emolytics can help you to get to know your customers in a non-intrusive way using short, effective surveys that have a high response rate. We can also work with you on ‘brand equity’ – the degree to which your customers’ perceptions of your brand drives your commercial value. The model combines several aspects of branding, including recommendability and memorability, the quality of the offer and your company’s response to customer needs.

Start making the most of your branding

Find out how you can take full advantage of emotions in your branding. Get in touch for a free consultation with our digital experts today.

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