Updated: Apr 26
In a sea of brands, how are you able to stand out? Branding is all about creating an experience and emotional branding uses the power of the mind to better attract your ideal clients. The advertising and marketing industries have been using neuroscience to their advantage for decades. Understanding the way we behave and how our brains subconsciously respond to colours and imagery can help you target your dream clients and customers through your brand to grow your business.
START BY KNOWING WHO YOUR TARGET AUDIENCE IS
When you sell to everyone, you’re really selling to no one.
Any marketer or brand strategist will tell you, one of the fundamental steps to building a successful brand is to define your target audience. It may seem silly to create fictitious personas for your ideal customers but what it helps to do is paint a picture of specific individuals that you can think of as you build out your brand strategy. Some questions you want to answer are:
What do they do professionally?
What motivates them?
What do they struggle with?
How do they spend their spare time?
What are they passionate about?
Where do they live?
What would make their lives easier?
These are just a handful of questions you want to clarify in order to better understand your target audience. By doing this, you are able to narrow your focus by using the emotional motivators and behaviours of your audience to influence your brand’s direction.
WHAT IS EMOTIONAL BRANDING?
In Jack Trout and Al Ries’ Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind, they define a brand as something made in the mind. In other words, a brand is what your audience perceives you to be.
So, in order to design a brand that is built for and resonates with them, you need to connect with them on an emotional level. This is emotional branding.
Today, with more brands than ever bombarding your visual field, it’s hard to stand out from the crowd. This is where emotional branding can have a huge impact for your business. With a solid understanding of who your target audience is, you can start to identify how to grab their attention by triggering a specific emotional response from them.
Generally, this means promising a solution to a problem they have or a desire they need fulfilled.
"A brand is something made in the mind."
Jack Trout & Al Ries
EMOTIONAL BRANDING EXAMPLE: MAMA ETC.
A recent client of mine, Mama Etc., a perinatal practitioner and (soon-to-be) certified lactation consultant, is a great example of how a brand can use emotional branding to attract their target audience. With the majority of lactation consultants in the area being specialized nurses, the age gap between them and most new moms today is growing dramatically.
The goal in her brand strategy was to put a modern spin on an industry that is out of touch with their target audience. Identifying the need for lactation consultants that are young and who understand the lifestyle of moms today, she is triggering a desire to be seen and understood by creating a brand that is warm and modern.
HOW DOES EMOTIONAL BRANDING WORK?
When designing your brand it’s important to factor in the psychological effects that certain colours and imagery can have. Fifty percent of our brain is used for visual processing power  which means that the colours, typography and logo choices you make have a significant emotional impact on how your brand is perceived by others.
In my article 5 Things You Need to Know About Branding and Colours we take a look at the common associations certain colours have and the emotions they are known to evoke in people. For example, blue is often used by banks because it evokes a sense of security and trust. By looking at the chart below, you can see how certain brands rely on particular colours for their known emotional connotation.
When choosing the best brand colours for your business, consider your company’s values and what emotions you’re trying to evoke in your audience that would draw them in.
BRAND CONSISTENCY FULFILLS A DESIRE FOR FAMILIARITY
Emotional branding is also about the brand experience you’re creating. People have a strong desire for familiarity. It evokes a feeling of comfort and dependability. By delivering a consistent brand experience you’re able to trigger a positive emotional response in your audience.
Humphrey Couchman of Fabrik said “When we recognise a familiar pattern, our brains produce dopamine, which makes us feel better…your aim should be to produce content that feels familiar in terms of the font, images, graphics, and the colours you use.”
It is so important to honour your brand style guide in order to maintain and achieve this brand consistency. The same is true for your social media content strategy. Be sure to deliver cohesive content. If your brand colours are blues and greens, your audience will expect this palette from you. Don’t surprise your audience with an “off-brand” post, it will only cause confusion and discomfort.
While the fonts and colours you choose may serve to attract your audience visually, emotional branding is also about the messaging you align yourself with.
FORGING AN EMOTIONAL CONNECTION
Now more than ever, people want to connect with a brand. On a large scale, they want to know that there is a driving force greater than the product or service they offer. As a result, many brands today will have a leading cause that helps them attract like-minded individuals into their brand sphere.
For TOMS it’s donating a pair of shoes for every pair sold. For Patagonia, it’s donating 1% of sales to the preservation and restoration of the natural environment. These are emotional branding examples that show how a brand’s core values play into the shared values of a particular audience. By understanding your own values as a brand you are able to align your messaging and brand positioning to better serve and connect with your audience.
EMOTIONAL BRANDING FOR SMALL BUSINESSES
For small businesses and brands, emotional branding can happen by connecting directly with your audience. Actively engaging with your followers and speaking to their needs makes your audience feel important and heard. This is a great way to build trust and forge an emotional connection with them.
Another way to use emotional branding in your small business is by social proof. People want to know they can trust a brand or business and using testimonials and reviews is the best way to reassure your audience. Make requests for reviews part of your standard workflow and share them on your website and on social media.
And as I mentioned earlier, strive for a consistent brand experience. This means both in terms of your visual output — the use of colours, typography, and type of imagery — but also in your messaging. Your audience likely gravitated to your for these very reasons, so continue to deliver this positive brand experience.
The goal of emotional branding is to establish brand loyalty. When a person feels an emotional connection to a brand, you’ll have greater customer retention and a higher lifetime value from that individual. I encourage you to look for the ways you can better understand your audience on an emotional level, so that you can create an authentic connection with them.