What is Emotional Branding? - Definition & Examples

Instructor: Beth Hendricks

Beth holds a master's degree in integrated marketing communications, and has worked in journalism and marketing throughout her career.

Come on, admit it. There's a commercial out there that makes you cry. In this lesson, we'll take a look at some of those and define emotional branding, how it works, and what it means for the relationship between brand and buyer.

You've Got That Feeling

Nike is well-known for its ''Just Do It,'' slogan, but the heart of their marketing messages rests less on famous athletes and more in the everyday man. In 2012, they focused on ''Find Your Greatness,'' using an average young man running to get in shape. Their ''Rise and Shine'' campaign highlights all the excuses and reasons we give for not being able to work out, challenging us to ''run a little faster'' and ''throw a little harder.'' Another print ad bears the words ''Your only limit is you.'' But, Nike's not the only company to tug at the heartstrings.

Samsung has a commercial featuring an ostrich trying out the company's virtual reality headset. It uses the tagline ''Do what you can't,'' a nod to the bird's inability to fly on its own. The message for consumers is that the headset takes you to places you can't go on your own. You are drawn into the commercial and the ostrich's dream of flying. In the end, you're cheering for him to find his wings.

Another good example of a company with a special marketing approach is Starbucks, whose red cups, for many, mark the start of the holiday season. It brings up images of snowy days, roaring fires and holidays spent with friends and family. What do all of these brands have in common? They rely on a marketing strategy known as emotional branding.

What the Idea Behind Emotional Branding?

After reading those examples, you may have guessed the definition of emotional branding. It is when businesses use marketing strategies that appeal not to a consumer's wallet or even his or her intellect, but to their heart. Emotional branding is about building relationships between a brand and its consumers using something that appeals to a buyer's goals, wants, needs, desires, ego or emotions. When you can connect on a deeper level, you set yourself up for a loyal relationship that can go the distance, and generally, profits follow.

In a marketplace where scores of products are vying for consumers' attention, any brand that can establish a connection with its audience stands a better chance of winning customers and keeping them hanging around. Consider the following example. Which of these vacuum cleaners are you more likely to buy?

A. This is a commercial marketing a vacuum that boasts a lot of attachments at a great price.

B. This is commercial marketing a vacuum that promises to simplify your busy life.

More than likely, you're going to go with B, simply because it appeals to your desire to spend less time cleaning and more time with family or working on your hobbies. Commercial B humanizes the idea of marketing to appeal to a consumer's emotions. We're all busy, right? What could be better than a vacuum that simplifies cleaning and frees up your time? Reaching consumers at an emotional level, while perhaps irrational, can supersede reaching consumers at an intellectual (or more rational) level.

Let's take a look at a few more examples of emotional branding in action, with some brands that really get it right.

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