How to Use Emotional Branding Effectively?


The role of emotional branding in advertising. 

What is Emotional Branding?

With emotional branding, you trigger your consumers’ emotions in order to encourage them to develop a relationship with your products or services. This is achieved by producing content that is appealing to a consumer’s emotional condition, their needs, aspirations and ego. 

Emotional branding is a concept that was developed over two decades ago, and first coined by Marc Gobe in the book The New Paradigm for Connecting Brands to People. Gobe based his philosophy on his observations that a connection can occur at an emotional level in a relationship between people and brands. 

Emotional branding and marketing is so effective because it taps into our most natural desires for emotional security, love, ego gratification, and power.

Emotional Branding and Emotional Advertising:

Even though the term ‘Emotional Advertising’ might appear self-explanatory, it is quite an intricate practice. If it’s not properly delivered it can leave the audience confused. However, when it makes use of the right kind and amount of emotional appeal, emotional advertising is a tool that is highly potent and effective. 

Emotions can be directly used in advertising – such as in ad campaigns or specific ads. With every emotional ad that you make, you are adding something to your overall strategy of emotional branding. In other words, emotional advertisements act as the building blocks that ultimately lead to your brand’s structural integrity. 

Often, an emotional ad is created in response to a major event, such as when Airbnb pushed the idea of a global village through their ‘Let’s Keep Traveling Forward’ ad.

The Neuroscience Behind Emotional Advertising:

While numerous companies see brand building as an art rather than as a science, there are some organisations that focus on how they can tailor their brand awareness campaigns and strategies to affect customers on a deeper, psychological level through the ‘neuromarketing’ tactic. 

Neuroscience is a research field that focuses on humans’ affective and cognitive responses. When these ideas are applied to checking how a consumer’s brain will respond to stimuli, it is referred to as ‘neuromarketing’.

When we take a scientific approach to branding and make use of tools like EEG (electroencephalogram), facial coding and eye-tracking, we develop a better idea about a person’s response and how they might respond to a particular brand or advertisement. 

This scientific research related to consumer reactions and marketing has unearthed some vital statistics that are now being used by marketers to better communicate with their audiences:

  • Up to 90% of our buying decisions are subconsciously made. 

  • Compared to text, visuals are processed 60,000 times faster..

  • Emotions account for 50% of brand experiences. 

How is Emotion Connected to the Hierarchy of Needs?

Abraham Maslow’s famous Hierarchy of Needs says that before humans can meet their emotional needs (strength, status, respect), they need to meet their physiological needs (food, air, water, shelter).

Can we apply this theory to branding? Let’s take the example of one of the leading brands around the world, Apple. 

  • In 1984, it introduced the Macintosh (physiological need).

  • The iPhone, with its ‘privacy, its iPhone’ tagline (safety need).

  • The iPod which users could use to prepare customized song lists (belonging need). 

  • The iPhone 5S, with the ‘Chic, not geek’ tagline (esteem need).

  • The ‘think different’ campaign (self-actualization need). 

Brands should learn about the needs that are fulfilled by their products and services, and see where they can place their value proposition in Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs pyramid. Using this approach can help to develop a clearer idea about the emotional appeals that brands should be targeting. 

Best Practices for Emotional Branding:

  • Use visuals to focus on emotions:

Emotions are a crucial part of effective neuromarketing, owing to their ability to influence the subconscious mind. Remember that almost half of the brain is related to visual processing powers. Hence, marketers should focus not only on establishing a strong visual identity but on other visual elements including colours, fonts, logos, movement and depth in order to offer optimal emotional experiences. 

  •  Customise your interactions:

The human-brain is self-serving and you can use this to make your buyers feel important, satisfied, and happy. Make your interactions genuine and unique. Develop customisation options in your products and apply targeted marketing and sales to form interactions tailored according to each customer’s needs and requirements. 

  • Inspire engagement:

When you engage with your users, you enable them to develop a greater personal connection with your brand, and consequently produce greater emotional reactions. Reach out to influencers and use the power of social media to share content that is user generated. Also make sure to reply to any comments or reviews. 

  • Make users feel comfortable:

Consistency is perhaps the most important factor when it comes to successful emotional branding. To avoid confusion and conflicting emotions, stick to the same colours and ensure that you appeal to emotions that feel similar. 

  • Have a quick response to public relation problems:

Providing a timely response to major issues is crucial – customers feel valued when a company is quick to respond to a mistake. For instance, when Johnson and Johnson was involved in a Tylenol tampering case, the company instantly recalled all of its inventory to protect its customers - despite a lack of evidence pointing to further contamination. 

Emotional Branding – Benefits:

Implementing neuroscience techniques as part of your marketing and branding strategies can generate quite compelling results. When you are able to make ads that target your customers with greater effectiveness, you will be able to better engage that audience. 

Engaging with your audience results in developing a relationship that leads to significant increases in lifetime value. You will also be spending less money and at the same time creating loyal customers, considerably improving your ROI . 

Remember that, even though customers might make 90% of their decisions subconsciously, almost an equally high percentage of customers feel that they are not personally connected to the brands that they purchase. Hence, by forming an emotional connection, you can take advantage of a massive opportunity that will make you stand out from your customers. 

Emotional Branding – Examples:

  • Always’ ‘Like A Girl’ Campaign:

This ad campaign that appealed to emotions by instigating feelings of empowerment and confidence in women and completely switched the meaning of the phrase ‘like a girl’. Even though the campaign became the target of some controversy, it did go on to win numerous awards including the Grand Clio, a Cannes Grand Prix and an Emmy. 

  • Patagonia’s ‘Public Lands’ Campaign:

Patagonia has never shied away from its commitment to and responsibility towards the environment. The company’s efforts for conserving open spaces and restoring the environment has led to a loyal customer base that extends an unwavering support for the brand.

  • Calm’s ‘Meditation Made Easy’ Campaign:

The name is also the emotion. With the Calm smartphone app, users can perform gentle stretches and guided meditation to ease their bodies and induce easy and deep sleep. The branding makes use of soothing fonts and soft gradients to hit home the decompressing mission that drives their brand. 

  • Google’s ‘Year in Search’ Campaign:

The Year in Search is a summary of the phrases that were searched more during every year, with an objective of creating a communal feel based on Google searches. Even though this digest often includes polarizing events and topics, you can trust Google to highlight the vital moments in every year that contributed to world unity, thereby developing a strong emotional connection between itself and its users. 

Final Word:

Emotional appeal is a tried and tested tactic that helps brands attract, connect with and encourage their audiences to use their products and services. 

In order to improve user experience, it is important that you learn how your marketing and branding efforts will affect individual users’ lives. Businesses that are able to harness the power of emotional advertising and branding are rewarded with user retention, along with greater consumer lifetime value. 

Our subconscious is responsible for most of our decision making and most of life’s businesses are conducted through our initial emotional responses, which is significantly below the awareness threshold. 

If you focus on your users’ reactions and responses, you will be able to select messages, fonts, and colors that feel appealing and not daunting. 

Making use of emotions in your marketing and branding will lead to the creation of life-long and loyal brand ambassadors. 


Researchers, agencies and brands choose Smile Reader to deliver valuable insights that  increase brand equity and achieve high performance marketing campaigns. 

For more information on their emotion recognition services, click here.