May 21 2021

2021: The Year of Emotion in Brands

brand emotionThe pandemic and the resulting impact across the world will be felt for years to come. As many of us in the U.S. slowly begin to return to a new normal, we are profoundly and perhaps permanently changed by the events that have occurred around us and in our own personal lives. While life slowed down, many of us had more time to self-reflect– causing us to take stake in what’s truly important – such as friends, family and health. On top of this, the stress of the pandemic, the political, social and uneconomic unrest, as well as the uncertainty that still lies ahead has left many of us much more emotional than ever before.

This raw, collective emotional state is where we may be for a while. Smart marketers can strategically (and sensitively) use these shared circumstances to help better connect their brands with consumers – as the world and people have changed, so brands need to, too.

Evaluate your Brand Strategy

2021 is not the year for advertisers and marketers to just pick up where they left off. As people have taken time to introspect, marketers should also take the time to closely evaluate their own brand strategy and positioning. Have the personas of your target audiences changed with the times? Is your brand’s messaging on-point with current consumer needs? Are you considering different demographics and psychographics? What connotations does your brand carry? Question everything your brand stands for, and make sure that your strategy is well-defined and reflective of today’s world.

What is Emotional Branding?

Successful brands are tapping into emotional branding with creative content that appeals to a person’s ego, aspirations, needs, lifestyle and emotional state. This relevance incites an emotional response that creates a greater connection between the brand and consumer. Ask yourself what emotions you want to provoke in your audiences and then work on a strategy to achieve that. Consider this:

  • 95% of our purchasing decisions are subconscious, according to Harvard professor Gerald Zaltman

  • Many companies use neuromarketing (sometimes called consumer neuroscience) to predict consumer behavior and decision making. While this can be expensive and difficult for most brands, the concept behind this is that consumers make subconscious decisions about your brand which can influence marketing success and ultimately sales.

Best Practices for Emotional Branding

While each brand will have a unique approach, there are some simple ways you can bring emotional branding into your promotions and positioning.

  1. Visual branding elements: Your brand’s visual identity alone can make an emotional connection with a consumer. Colors, logos and fonts can all trigger certain associations, so if you are re-evaluating your brand, be sure to ask yourself if the visuals align with the emotions you are trying to trigger.

  2. Brand engagement: Evaluate how people engage with your brand, and what opportunities there are to support your emotional marketing goals. Social media and ratings/reviews are great ways for brands to engage with consumers. Be responsive, be helpful and be sensitive to individual experiences.

  3. Brand consistency: While Apple may be the gold standard in branding consistency, your brand should look for every opportunity to ensure that audiences immediately recognize your brand – from your digital presence to print materials. Not only should every channel have consistent visual and messaging standards, but each should also have the same emotional focus as well.

  4. Storytelling: Visuals play an important role in emotional branding, but words can be just as powerful. Telling your brand story, sharing customer stories and using statements that relate to someone’s experiences, attitudes or aspirations is an effective strategy that can provide benefits beyond creating an emotional connection.

  5. Personalize content when possible: It is no secret that being able to personalize content can help support conversions and improve the consumer experience (CX), but personalized content can also elicit an emotional response from your target audience if done properly. Make audiences feel heard and important, and you will be rewarded with brand trust and loyalty. Be careful however of how you use marketing automation to personalize interactions, as consumers are increasingly sensitive to this tactic if not done well.

  6. Pets, kids and other emotional triggers: For years marketers have used pets and kids to make an emotional connection with their audiences. In addition to these more obvious themes, think about other things that would form an emotional connection to audiences including familiar sights, sounds, landscapes, people, values, humor and more.  

  7. Less is more: Many of us have come out of the pandemic with a desire to never go back to a high-stress life again. This simplicity theme is very important for marketers to recognize and appeal to. Make life easier for your audiences -- make their decisions easy, don’t offer too many choices at once and give consumers what they need to make the best decision.

Above all – Be Relatable and Authentic

The common theme for all successful brands in 2021 and beyond is to be relatable to their audiences. While your specific strategy will be unique to your brand, your marketing and communications should immediately connect with audiences on an emotional level if you want to have a lasting connection and appeal. That emotional reaction will transfer to how consumers feel about your brand and ultimately turn into brand loyalty and business results.

  • Branding
  • COVID-19

posted by
Michelle Brown
Michelle Brown
VP of Marketing

ZAG Interactive is a full-service digital agency in Glastonbury, CT, offering website design, development, marketing and digital strategy to clients nationwide. See current job openings.
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