It is well known that brands cross the barrier of rationality and live in emotional territory. In the same way, the decisions we make every day follow a common pattern that is much more instinctive and impulsive than rational.

Some studies indicate that 80% of the factors influencing the purchase are emotional, while only 20% are rational, even in B2B environments. The characteristics of the products or their benefits are simply a basis for the justification of the final decision, but the original motivation is basically emotional. Emotions are also involved during and after the purchase, connecting the brand with the hearts of customers.

Already in 2001 Marc Gobé, author of the well-known “Emotional Branding“, exposed the value of emotions in the construction of relationships between brands and people. According to Gobé, emotional branding focuses on the most relevant aspect of human character: the desire to transcend material satisfaction to experience emotional fulfillment, where brands are the lever that activates human impulses and motivations.

What exactly are emotions?

Everyone knows what emotions are, at least until they have to describe them. The usual definitions are linked to lists of characteristics, according to which we can say that emotions are complex reactions that we experience as a result of our interactions with the environment. They involve psychological, behavioural and attitudinal changes, as well as subjective experience.

Emotions can be related to objects, memories, spaces and, of course, brands; And they can be positive, but they can also be negative. Some are innate or primary, such as love, care, joy, surprise… Others are considered secondary and are learned through experience, such as pride, sympathy, shame…

Emotions are responsible for directing our thoughts, our actions, our decisions, and even our purchasing behavior. The rise of digital platforms such as Amazon makes it increasingly difficult to achieve differentiation between one product and another, between one brand and another. In this sense, the emotional connection that brands achieve with customers is much more valuable than mere satisfaction with the purchase. Customers put their feelings before the use of reason before their purchasing decisions, the old paradigm THINK-MAKE-FEEL has taken a turn towards FEEL-MAKE-THINK.

Emotional Motivators

When businesses connect with customers’ emotions, the payoff can be huge. Thanks to neuromarketing techniques, it is possible to measure and strategically focus the feelings that drive customer behavior. Identifying and measuring emotional motivators can be complex because customers themselves may not even be aware of them. These feelings are often different from what customers say, they are the real reasons why they make decisions regarding the brand.

According to an HBR study, the top emotional motivators that significantly affect customers in any category are:

  1. Stand out from the crowd: project a single social identity. To be seen as special.
  2. Be confident in the future: perceiving the future as better than the past.
  3. Enjoy a sense of well-being: find a state of balance without conflict or threats.
  4. Feeling a sense of freedom: acting independently, without restrictions. Sentiment that has increased after the pandemic.
  5. Feeling the excitement: experiencing overwhelming pleasure and inner arousal.
  6. Harbor a sense of belonging: feeling part of a group.
  7. Protect the environment: Take action to protect the environment.
  8. To be who you want to be: to achieve a sense of individual improvement, to project the desired image.
  9. Feeling secure: believing that what you have today you will still have tomorrow, projecting dreams without worries.
  10. Achieving success in life: feeling that you are living a full life, beyond the economy.

Emotional Branding Strategy

Brand and emotions are two intrinsically linked concepts, which cannot be separated. This is true for both B2C and B2B sectors. In both, the fact of generating an emotional relationship is an excellent help to expand differentiation with the competition and achieve greater performance. Emotions are more important than ever at a time when brand loyalty is noticeably declining. Increasing the emotional foundation in brand strategy makes it easier to realize that consumers are important to brands, that brands understand them, and care about how they feel.

As the person responsible for managing brand assets, branding appeals directly to emotions and is not something that happens by accident. It has to be a strategic component linked to the business itself and that takes into account each of the points of contact in the brand-customer relationship. It is necessary to develop business strategies that connect people’s needs and aspirations with the reality of the brand and its purpose. For this reason, it is worth considering the power of the 5 senses to increase the full potential of branding.

How to build a good Emotional Branding strategy?

It will be necessary to decide what kind of emotions we want to focus the promise, the messages and the brand experience on. It is not possible to assume from the outset that “Happiness” is a general feeling valid for everyone. A wrong choice can mean a resounding failure.

Consider these 5 tips to get started:

  • Focus the focus

Think about people, not customers. Think about experience rather than products. Think dialogue rather than information. Apple’s first principle is empathy, an intimate connection to the customer’s feelings.

  • Discover the emotional motivators of your customers

Identify your ideal customers (remember we’re talking about people). Select three or four emotional motivators they can share. If you need help, I recommend reading Hot Button Marketing, by Barry Feig.

  • Tell a story

Brands are built on stories that matter. Stories dress up facts with emotion and show the human side of business. For this reason, storytelling in business is a way to engage the audience with memorable messages with greater impact than telling the facts themselves. The stories of a brand like Toms leave no one unmoved because we all know that the best stories are the ones that continue with us once we close the book.

  • Customize

Corporations with standard messages don’t generate any emotion. To create an emotional connection between a customer and a brand, you need to make them see that we recognize their individuality. The first step is to personalize communication with each of the customers, integrating what is known about them (past purchases, favorite products, birthdays, and, of course, name, gender, and other demographics). A next step, the one that can really set you apart from your competitors, is to customize your own products. Shopify is able to customize its solutions for each of its customers.

  • Foster long-term relationships

Good relationships are based on care and grow over time. The emotional connection between customers and brands is no exception to this. Emotional branding doesn’t end with the purchase decision. To foster loyalty and maximize customer lifetime value, be sure to take extra care with after-sales customer service. Continue to communicate regularly with your customers and anticipate their needs to show them that you care. Do not be indifferent.

Emotional branding focuses on the most relevant aspect of human character: the desire to transcend from material satisfaction to experience emotional fulfillment, where brands are the lever that activates human impulses and motivations. Adopting an organization-wide strategy of emotional connection requires deep customer insight, analytical capabilities, and above all, a management commitment to aligning the organization with the new way of thinking.

Emotional connections no longer have to be a mystery, they can be a new source of real competitive advantage and business growth.


Carlos Puig Falcó
CEO of Branward