How Emotional Marketing Can Help Your Branding

American poet, singer and civil rights activist, Maya Angelou, once said,

They may forget your name, but they will never forget how you made them feel.

While this quote holds true for everyday interactions in life, it also speaks to how brands approach marketing campaigns and how consumers react to them.

Whether the emotional response is anger, joy, sadness, fear, or some other variation of these emotions, consumers will remember how your advertisement made them feel.

What is emotional advertising? It’s the means by which marketers appeal to their audiences by eliciting a specific emotion to bring awareness to their branding objectives.

According to Hubspot,

Emotional marketing refers to marketing and advertising efforts that primarily use emotion to make your audience notice, remember, share, and buy.

Bringing forth these emotions from your consumers can help your brand increase its likability and loyalty with customers. But how do you apply this tactic into your marketing strategy? As the ultimate guide to emotional marketing, this post will show you how to leverage this tactic for your business.

Understanding the Science of Emotional Marketing

Different emotions evoke different responses, and understanding which emotion you want to incite to elicit a response is key when crafting an advertisement. When it comes to social media, happiness is the emotion that drives social sharing.

In his book, Contagious: Why Things Catch On, Jonah Berger explains that users tend to share things on either sides of the spectrum. More often than not, users shared articles and videos that were exciting or humorous.

On the flip side, users also shared content that made them feel angry or gave them anxiety, but didn’t share content that left them simply sad. However, the more positive the social post, the more likely it would be shared.

Getting down to the science of things, i.e. neuromarketing, the chemical oxytocin is a neurotransmitter in the brain—often referred to as the love hormone—that plays a vital role in how users respond to content. A study directed by Paul Zak, PhD, at Claremont Graduate University in California, revealed that:

People treated with oxytocin donated 56 percent more money to causes presented in public service announcements. Study participants who received oxytocin also reported that the advertisements made them feel more empathetic.

He goes on to say that “[t]his research suggests that advertisers use images that cause our brains to release oxytocin to build trust in a product or brand, and hence increase sales.

These emotional marketing statistics show that, while the feeling of happiness promotes social sharing, the feelings of empathy and trust promote a different kind of response from users.

In this case, those feelings resulted in higher monetary contributions to advertisements. This particular emotion can be leveraged by non-profit organizations looking for donors.

Where Can Businesses Use Emotional Marketing for Branding?


Deciding what emotions you want to evoke from your ads is just as important as choosing a logo or website design because you’re determining how you want to appeal to your target audience.

Keep in mind that deciding what kind of medium you want to deliver your message is just as important. For dozens of brands, social video is one of the top digital marketing trends of 2019, and has also become the medium of choice for many companies.

For example, although the advertisement was controversial, Nike’s “Just Do It” campaign featuring Colin Kaepernick was well received by the company’s main audience.

The former American football quarterback is known for his peaceful protests against racial injustice during the national anthem. Instead of standing, which is customary, he first began sitting and then taking a knee. His actions were viewed as insulting by the NFL, and he was eventually unsigned.

This particular narrative was a powerful story Nike used to communicate their values as a company while simultaneously increasing their brand awareness through billboard ads, video and social video.

As for its effectiveness, the campaign increased Nike’s income by 10% during its second quarter in 2018, and increased social mentions by 135%. While some may disagree, Nike’s ad was inspiring.

Featuring superstar athletes like LeBron James and Serena Williams, the ad spoke to viewers with a Kaepernick narration saying, “[d]on’t ask if your dreams are crazy, ask if they’re crazy enough.

This campaign is a prime example of how social video can contribute to emotional marketing effectiveness.

How Can Businesses Use Emotional Marketing for Branding?

Once you’ve determined what medium you want to deliver your message in, you now have to decide how to convey that emotion.

This can be done in a number of different ways. For Nike’s ad, they used influencers to inspire their narrative. For brands like The New York Presbyterian, their advertisements show the reality of the work they do through patient testimonials.

Their tagline, “Amazing Things are Happening Here”, is inspired by the truly amazing work of the healthcare professionals at the hospital. Their advertisements feature select patients in black and white, telling the story of how they came to the New York Presbyterian and what the hospital’s doctors and nurses were able to do for them.

These stories show how grateful and appreciative the patients are to have been treated with such high quality care. The best part? Those feelings truly translate to viewers.

For big brands that use emotional branding like Nike and the New York Presbyterian, those emotions play into how users feel when they wear Nike clothing and how they feel about the professionals providing them care.

When wearing Nike, you feel empowered. When at the New York Presbyterian, you feel safe. How do you want your users to feel when interacting with your brand? How can you convey that through everyday content?

If you’re a small business looking to practice your emotional marketing strategy, but don’t have the budget of Nike or the New York Presbyterian, you can use the same tactics on a smaller scale.

Ask local influencers that are familiar with your brand to publish social posts advocating for your products and services. Have a couple of your frequent customers review your brand on Google or Glassdoor. You don’t need millions of dollars to emotionally connect with your audience.

Tip Wrap-Up

All advertisements make us feel something. Whether or not those feelings are intentional is entirely up to the brand. Emotional marketing is a great way to connect with your audience, generate consumer loyalty and increase brand awareness. It’s a smart way to show your audience that you understand who they are and what they want from your business.

Before you go, let’s review the key takeaways from this post:

● Emotional advertising is the means by which marketers appeal to their audiences by eliciting a specific emotion to bring awareness to their branding objectives.

● The happier a post is, the higher the likelihood of it getting shared.

● The chemical release of oxytocin helps build trust in a brand and is released in the body when users feel empathy.

● Use emotional advertising in videos, social posts, billboards and slogans.

● Emotional advertising can be conveyed through influencer stories, testimonials, paid social posts, and even Google reviews.

Best of luck!

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