This next block in our brand-building guide is on Brand Emotions. As we’ll get into later, we recommend that you instil your brand with three key emotions which you’re going to use to define your customer’s experience. Without you defining them, the customer or user is going to define them on their own—you’ll have lost control of your own branding, which is never good.
So what we’re going to help you build today is an emotional bond with your Audience. We’re going to use an example of a visionary that we’ll return to consistently in this series, Walt Disney. Walt knew his ideal guest, his ideal movie-goer, and he knew what he wanted to make them feel. That was the metric of his success.
In the next few sections, we’ll discuss what brand emotions are, and give some examples too. We’ll also cover why exactly they’re important, how Walt used them, and what we can learn from that.
So, without wasting any more time, let’s dive in.
Brand Emotions are the core reactions to your Brand—they’re what you want your audience to feel. You should aim for your customers to feel these emotions—happiness, confidence, hope and so on—whenever they encounter your visual branding, your fonts, your colors, your logo or even just your brand name.
Like we said above, if you don’t define what you want your Audience to feel, then you’re not going to have any control over how they experience your products, services and marketing. They won’t feel what you would prefer them to feel.
Think of it like this: in the movie industry, the writer plans out the story of the film before they start writing. They picture their viewer’s reaction: the scary opening that captures their curiosity, the sweet moment when two lovers finally get to kiss, or the horror of a monster peeking their head around the door. The writer then weaves these moments into the story at certain points (or ‘beats’) and does everything they can to make sure that the audience feels what they want them to feel. That’s what we’re trying to do here.
Walt Disney knew exactly what he wanted his audience to feel—safety, magic and nostalgia. It all stemmed from him wanting a safe place and a safe way to entertain his family; back in his day, there was no alternative to building that vision on his own. Of course, everybody laughed at him; but he knew that families such as his would flock to a place like Disneyland. Naturally, these same emotions fed into Disney’s movies, and are what make them successful to this day.
To help you see what we’re getting at, here are nine examples of brand emotions that you could use in your own branding.
Joy is quintessential—if you can make a customer react with joy to your product or service, then you might have earned a customer for life. We all experience joy in different ways: whether that’s with our families, friends, or through new experiences. If your product or service offers an experience, you could make the joy of discovery a key building block of your brand emotion.
You could also use joy to help you stand out against your competitors. Let’s say your business is in stocks, or something corporate. By incorporating joy into your Brand, and making your audience happy or even delighted with your training programs/bespoke customer service/etc. etc., that’s a great way to juxtapose yourself against everybody else in the industry.
Curiosity and interest is another potential component to your Brand as a whole. Put simply, you want to pique people’s interest and draw them in to discover more about your Brand. To bring us back around to the movie comparisons we were making earlier, here’s one I always include in my teaching: Jaws.
The first scene of the movie is something simple that we can all relate to: a guy and a girl meet, and agree to go swimming that night in the moonlight, out in the ocean. As the guy’s struggling into his swim suit, the girl swims out, and, well, we don’t need to tell you what happens. We hear that classic Jaws score, and see a view from below of something coming closer and closer to the girl—before attacking her. The point of all this? You don’t see the shark.
That’s the power of curiosity, and that’s what you could bring to your brand. Once you’ve piqued your customer’s interest, and convinced them to find out more about your brand, you’ve won half the battle.
When it comes to Brand Emotions, you have a choice: either peacefulness and serenity, or excitement. There’s nothing wrong with either, but you can’t have both. We’ve opted for serenity here as our example. You’re most likely to see this kind of Brand Emotion in the health and wellness industry—so spas, massage therapists, natural medical products and so on all fall in this category.
Serenity is a great seller. If you can convince your customer that their troubles would simply melt away if they were to buy your product or service, or that they can enjoy peace of mind with a security or damaged goods guarantee, you’re overcoming the objections they have to giving you their hard earned money.
Hope is another great seller, although its effectiveness depends on what you’re trying to sell. If you’re trying to help out people who’ve been bankrupt, or who’ve been through some other trying ordeal, then your brand could be the light at the end of their tunnel. Now that’s how you sell. Of course, you want to avoid taking advantage of anyone in a desperate situation, but if your Brand is genuinely helpful then you’ll build a loyal customer base in no time.
To build up hope, you have to have credibility. So this is where you showcase case studies, examples, customer reviews and the like to prove that your brand does what it says it does. You can also empower your Audience, and lift them up from whichever pit of despair they’ve fallen in—where they don’t have time to cook, or can’t meet Mr/Mrs Right, or they want to find a new job (or whatever else you might want to help them with).
Next up is appreciation: where you want your users or customers to genuinely appreciate your Brand and what it stands for. This is a difficult one to use as you build your Brand, since customers typically appreciate big, long-standing brands whose products have been around for a while and really made a difference in their lives: Nike for a customer who used their shoes to lose weight by running, for instance.
That being said, appreciation works a charm if your Vision is something a little more charitable than raw business. Let’s go literal: if your vision is a charity, then you want people who donate to appreciate the good work you do. That applies whether you show them how you used their money to save nature, save the rainforest, or save the whales.
Kindness is an interesting Brand Emotion, since it’s difficult to be charitable and kind when there’s a bottom line to be met. But it’s possible to be a ‘kind’ Brand and still an effective business. Let’s say that your Brand, your Vision, is something big—like a multinational hedge fund or an international bank (alright, not all visions are this big, but it’s a good way to illustrate the point).
Well, as a big business like that, it would be easy to be threatening; to be heartless. By showing generosity and even affection to others—especially your audience—you would make your Brand unique and memorable. This is where your Brand philosophy comes into play, so if you’d like to know more about brand philosophy, refer back to our first Block on Vision & Mission for more info.
Surprise is a powerful tool. There are two ways to surprise your customers. The first is where you don’t just meet, but exceed their expectations. The second is where you provide them with a Brand new experience, something that they’ve never come across before; like the first smartphone made with brushed metal, or the hottest chili they’ve ever tasted. Either way, you’re going to stand out.
Other simple ways of using surprise as one of your Brand Emotions are things like physical ‘welcome’ letters, unexpected bonuses and exceptional offers at times like Christmas. What you want is to WOW your customers or clients, and make them say ‘Whoa—this company’s different. I like them.’
Cheerfulness is a simple concept; it’s like joy, but calmer and more constant and relaxed. Essentially, you want to put some smiles on some faces! You have to take your Audience out of their reality—let’s face it, we’re overwhelmed, probably a little short on cash, stressed out like crazy—and give them something to be happy about. Give them some positivity, and they’ll naturally gravitate towards you.
Think of how you greet your customers. Are you welcoming them? Are you happy to see them, and do you communicate that through your marketing, your social media and your website? Naturally, this also applies to your support staff: are they welcoming to customers, even if they have a complaint or a problem? Cheerfulness will get you a long way towards building real client and customer relationships.
The last example we’re covering is confidence: confidence in your brand, and what you’re able to deliver. The biggest objection that people are going to have with your Brand isn’t the price of what you offer, or necessarily the quality. It’s that they might not believe that it’s actually going to deliver the results that you promise. If you can inspire confidence in your product, you’re overcoming the main objection of most of your customers. You’re going to give them the confidence they need to try something new, and buy whatever you’ve got on offer.
Well, Brand Emotions are one of those things that you really don’t notice until you think about it. All this time, every brand you interact with has consciously tried to shape your perception and experience of it without you even noticing.
Here’s how they work.
This is the second of our 23 Blocks that you can use to create a strong, powerful Brand. There’s plenty more to come from us.
If you found this post but not our first, we really recommend you get started from the very beginning if you’re really interested in building a Brand from the ground up.
So, on that note: get out there and bring your vision to life.
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