How to Leverage Emotion to Increase Your Brand Impact

“When dealing with people, remember you are not dealing with creatures of logic, but with creatures of emotion, creatures bristling with prejudice and motivated by pride and vanity.” – Dale Carnegie

It’s time to get emotional about your brand. Now of course, we all have emotional attachments to our own brands. We love them.

But, we’re not here to talk about your relationship with your brand. We’re here to talk about your customers’ emotional relationship with your brand. That’s what really matters, and the key to successfully creating a lasting connection between your brand and your customer is to express your brand message with more emotion.

Giving your brand messaging an emotional angle will make it more effective. Whether it’s your advertising, your website, or your social media, managing how people feel about your brand, and not just how they think about it, will capture more attention, gain more engagement, and create a more loyal and long-lasting customer base.

Emotions Guide Our Decisions

Few would disagree that emotions can be powerful driving forces behind our everyday decisions. In fact, many studies conclude that up to 90% of the decisions we make are based on how we feel. It’s important to remember that this effect applies to our purchasing decisions, too. Even the purchases that might not seem inherently emotional, like in the B2B world, have a significant emotional component. And, as expert marketers, we should take advantage of this.

While the specific effect may vary by product category, there are emotional elements in almost every buying decision. As humans, we’re initially moved by our feelings. We then use facts and rationalizations to justify what we want to do, based on how we feel about it. With such a strong tie to decision making, it only makes sense to tap into that emotional force that drives the choices that affect your brand’s success.

How to Create Emotional Marketing

When we go to convey our brand messages, we have millions of words and images at our disposal. That’s one heck of a toolbox, but it can be a daunting task to dial into the most effective message. Luckily, noted marketing guru Seth Godin helped simplify this mission.

According to Godin, there are really only a handful of emotions that drive most human behavior — fear, anger, happiness, sadness, surprise, and disgust. Toss in Carnegie’s note on pride and vanity, and maybe even love for good measure, and you’ve got your basic marketing angles laid out before you. The path to infusing your brand messaging with emotional appeal is to put the buying decision, the buyer’s motivations, and the product’s benefits and features in the context of these emotions.

As an example, if you have a casual dining restaurant brand, you could spend your advertising dollars promoting unique menu items, your friendly service, reasonable prices, and convenient locations. That litany of features describes your brand. That’s nice. It’s very informative. Or, you could emphasize your restaurant as a place for good times (happiness) with friends and family (love). The first approach gives you reasons that justify going there, and the second one gives you a motivation to go. Which is more critical to influencing the visit?

What About B2B?

The operative words in that acronym are business. You might ask, “What could possibly be emotional about that?”


Business purchase decisions can involve multiple decision makers and information gatherers; huge budgets and exorbitant sums of money; extensive RFPs and proposals; and sometimes months of selling and negotiations. With so much on the line and so many moving pieces, there’s one clear driving emotional motivator here: fear.

This fear stems from risk. The risk of failure predominates because it is related to the three basic motivations of every person who works in an organization:

  1. Keep my job
  2. Secure a good raise/promotion
  3. Be recognized for my contributions


No one wants to be the person that greenlighted the new software system that everyone in the company hates. No one wants to have their name mentioned when people in the company are cursing the new benefits administration vendor. Reducing fear (keep my job) and enhancing the love and pride (recognition) of a decision can be done by conveying features and benefits that are clearly translatable to ideal outcomes. This enhances the confidence the buyer can have in their decision to select your product or service.

What’s the Takeaway?

For more effective advertising and branding, there’s one obvious strategy you should be employing. Evaluate your message strategies, creative briefs, and the work itself by answering one simple question: “How will this message make my prospects feel about my brand?” If you like the answer, you’ve taken a big step towards increasing your brand marketing impact.

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