One of the most successful commercials I can think of involves three grown men shouting “Whasssssup” into the phone for a full 30 seconds. While the ad may not have been the most profound, it stuck with people. And more importantly, it made them want to buy beer. Specifically Budweiser. And not for Budweiser’s smooth delicious taste. They wanted to drink a Budweiser so they could feel the warm sense of camaraderie these three men were enjoying. They wanted inclusion and comfort and happiness that only a Bud could give them. Believe it or not, the “Whassssup” commercial was a very emotional ad campaign.

Associating your brand with an emotion is essential to your brand’s voice, it’s what you want your customers to think of when they think of you. Without realizing it, it’s what customers use to determine whether or not they want to buy what you’re offering. As Michelle states, “We make most of our decisions based on emotion, and then rationalize our comfort level of making that decision”. The emotional reaction we form with a brand is done subconsciously, in our lizard brain. Customers have little choice in how they feel about a certain brand, and they’re going to form an emotional association regardless; it’s up to you to determine whether that response is going to be positive or negative.

Listen to “Familiarity – Emotional Branding Episode 14” on Spreaker.

The last thing you want is for your customer to feel unpleasantness when they picture your brand. Think of obnoxiously loud car salesman commercials, pop-ups, push advertising, or anything else that holds your customers hostage. Also tread lightly when dealing with the political sphere. While today’s political climate is definitely emotionally charged, tying one’s brand to any certain position may strengthen some customer’s emotional connection, but it will almost definitely alienate the other half of the population.

Rather, focus your brand on eliciting feelings we all crave: inclusion, happiness, comfort. This may initially sound manipulative (picture a group of Mad Men ad executives trying to write a car commercial that makes us cry) but it shouldn’t be. Even Don Draper said, “you can’t tell people what they want, it has to be what you want”. A great positive feeling campaign is worthless if your company culture does not align. You can’t have a smiley face logo and surly employees. Tina brings up the example of Southwest Airlines, a company renowned for their company culture of respecting their employees, and great customer service. The countless viral videos of their flight attendants singing to passengers, making jokes on the intercom, and simply enjoying their job, has done way more for the company’s brand voice than the red heart in their logo.

Authenticity is important. People will know if you’re not practicing what you’re preaching, and if there’s one thing people hate, it’s having their emotions manipulated. When defining your brand, make sure that your company culture reflects the image you want projected, things like bonding, happiness, and respect.  People want a brand that appeals to their emotional needs and aspirations, it makes us feel comfortable, and breeds familiarity. Once you have an emotional image for your brand, make sure people know it. Your message doesn’t have to be the evocative masterpiece that is the Budweiser “Whasssssup” commercial, but it should evoke similar feelings (companionship, happiness, familiarity) because if you don’t create an emotional brand for your company, your customers will.

Learn More About Emotional Branding

Book your tickets for Digital Summit to see Michelle Stinson Ross presenting #FeelingsMatter: Creating Emotional Customer Connections a 30-minute solo session on emotional branding and the Net Emotional Index.

By Ky Benkoi,

Writer for Mindful Appy

Ky Benko is an Elementary School teacher/librarian currently residing in the Netherlands where he enjoys riding bikes and eating cheese

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