The Psychology behind Emotional Branding

By Sarah O’Brien

Emotional branding taps into peoples’ dreams, emotions and desires. It fuels aspirational attainment; the need for the next big thing, the thing that will make your life better, make you better. The pursuit and purchase of commodities, like the new iPhone, lipstick, or car, drives us. The very thought of possessing these items evokes strong emotions, delivering a rush of dopamine straight to the brain.

Marketeers that understand and engage with these aspirations, egos and emotions understand the psychology behind emotional branding. They utilize connection and emotion to leverage certain brands and products, and they do it so subtly you won’t even know you’re being bought and sold a lie. 

‘The Shopping Momentum Effect’

A perfect example of emotional branding at work, is the ‘Shopping Momentum Effect’. A well-documented psychological phenomenon that drives people into a frenzied cascade of purchasing, the ‘Shopping Momentum Effect’ asserts that shopping has an inert quality that causes some shopping to turn into more shopping.

Think of Black Friday and Cyber Monday marketing campaigns, and what about Christmas? The messaging is clear, buy now and buy lots, your life will be better for it. Retailers understand the concept of the ‘Shopping Momentum Effect’ and take full advantage of it, and it’s not necessarily confined to one day either.

Mary from next door gets a brand-new sofa delivered, hers was old, and she’d had her eye on a new corner group for ages. Mary’s new sofa gets delivered and she’s delighted with it, but suddenly her coffee table is starting to look scruffy and worn in juxtaposition. So, what does Mary do? She places an order for a new coffee table and so the purchasing impetus continues.

How the Brands We Love Use Psychology to Cement Their Status

Coca-Cola, the world’s No.1 beverage company spends more money on advertising than any of their competitors. Every year, they consistently increase their ad budget in a bid to stay on top of their game, and it’s working. Coca Cola and its subsidiaries, are the most popular soft drinks everywhere in the world (excluding countries with trade embargoes) with the exception of Scotland, which holds its locally brewed drink, Irn Bru, in high-esteem.

But how exactly did The Coca Cola Company use psychology to cement their status as the world’s No.1 drinks company? A brand that knows how to pull consumer heartstrings is a brand that becomes a household name. Coca Cola first used emotional branding as a marketing tool during World War 2.

In 1941, Robert Woodruff decreed ‘every man in uniform gets a bottle of Coca-Cola for 5 cents, wherever he is and whatever it costs the company’. This cemented Coca-Cola’s status as a patriotic, all-American company even though prior to the war the product was being bottled on both sides of conflict.

Since then, the Coca-Cola brand has been inextricably linked with American culture. It has been instrumental in creating cultural artifacts and memorable campaigns, most notably their Christmas campaigns which have become an institution in their own right. When people think of Coca Cola, they think of Santa’s red velvet coat and bushy, white beard. They think of brightly-lit, red trucks ploughing through a thick carpet of snow. They think of glass Coca Cola bottles and polar bears.

Coca Cola created Santa, or at least the modern-day iteration of him. Don’t believe us? Check out this video all about 1920’s Santa Claus and the marketing campaign that put him on the map. But why did they bother? The brands we love use psychology to cement their status. They’ve mastered the art of the marketing spin. They create emotive campaigns, give their brand a personality, and anchor it in the consumer’s subconscious.

Emotional branding at its core is about creating a connection between brands and consumers. It’s about recognition and reward, and building brand loyalty. Why do Coca Cola’s consumers not drink Pepsi and vice a versa? Each brand has cultivated a following and built up brand loyalty. By associating your brand with images and slogans that evoke emotions, you are ensuring your customers can distinguish your brand amongst a sea of competitors.

How you can leverage emotional branding for you and your company?

Social media and content marketing are key players in the emotional branding mind-game. Give your brand a little personality and behold as your customers turn into life-long brand advocates. Things like colour, typeface, anchoring, positioning, these are all instrumental in making sure your brand is memorable enough to become a household name.

Why does Coca Cola use red branding? Why do BlueChief, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn all use blue? These are questions you must ask yourself when determining how to leverage consumer emotions. Do it right and you will reap the awards for years to come. If you don’t know where to start, start with content. Content marketing offers your customers tangible, actionable advice, and it feels authentic. It provides real value which in turn cultivates trust.

If you understand the psychology behind emotional branding, you understand your customers, ensuring long-term brand success.


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