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Why Do You Exist?: Appealing to Customers with Emotion

Published Jan 18, 2022

Emotional branding speaks to the heart. Appealing to consumers’ emotions is one of the most effective ways for brand marketers to connect with audiences, both online and offline.

Building a brand story requires looking inward as an organization and asking yourself — why do you exist? 

It can be a challenge to find the answer, and to figure out the best way to translate your brand story for social media, blogs, and other digital media channels.

According to a Forrester Consulting research study on the motivations behind consumer decision-making, the way people think and feel about a brand predicts how they act. The emotion of feeling is 1.5x stronger in influencing customer buying decisions than loyalty. Forrester’s study also found that brands are over-relying on big data to understand their customers, and they’re not putting enough emphasis on developing emotional connections as a way to influence buying decisions.

Emotional marketing plays a larger role in campaigns than most brands realize. We’ve all heard that you never get a second chance to make a first impression, but research on the psychology of emotion shows that the actual time it takes to form a first impression is just one-tenth of a second.

The good news is, it’s possible to change a first impression.

By emphasizing emotion, and sharing their core principles and values with online audiences, brand marketers have the ability to develop stronger relationships with their customers over time. When you share your brand narrative in an authentic way that resonates with consumers, the social media follows, likes, and retweets will come naturally. So will the sales.

Know yourself

Before we can talk about how you’re going to use emotion to win over audiences, you have to understand what your business is really about. Why do you exist? Who purpose does your brand serve? Why did you launch your company in the first place?

One way to get to know your brand on a deeper level is to create a mission statement. A mission statement clears the way for you to tell the story of your business and the values that everyone who is associated with it lives by. The best mission statements are clear and concise, but they also tug at the heartstrings with authentic human emotion.

You’ve got a story. A mission statement is the place to share it. 

A mission statement defines the purpose of your brand for both employees and customers, so that you can address business objectives and tell the complete story of how your organization came to be. The elements of emotional branding that we look for in a mission statement are:

1. Where did your brand come from?

2. What does your brand want to achieve?

3. What do your employees believe in?

If you’ve never written a mission statement before, now’s the time to try. Without a mission statement, it’s too easy for customers to misinterpret your overall purpose.

Writing a mission statement that details your brand’s goals, values, and aspirations, can persuade customers to feel a deeper emotional connection to your brand. If your company helps the community, let people know by including that in your mission statement. Involve customers in your brand by mentioning the people who’ve helped you grow your business by name in your mission statement.

Let’s take a look at a few mission statements that hit the mark with emotional branding. First, we’ve got

The Walt Disney Company:

“The mission of The Walt Disney Company is to entertain, inform and inspire people around the globe through the power of unparalleled storytelling, reflecting the iconic brands, creative minds and innovative technologies that make ours the world’s premier entertainment company.” (The Walt Disney Company)

The Walt Disney Company clearly states its goals, how it hopes to impact its audience (to inspire them), and how it hopes to achieve that impact (through the power of storytelling).

Now, let’s look at another mission statement that also gets high marks for having a strong emotional impact. This one is from REI, the outdoor retail chain:

“We’re passionate about life outside and want to share that passion with as many people as possible. That means making sure you have everything you need to get outside, from gear recommendations to inspiration for an upcoming trip, and from tips on how to pack a backpack to how to Leave No Trace (LNT).” (REI)

That is just a portion of a lengthy mission statement REI has posted on its company website. Your company website is an excellent place to post a statement like this, because length isn’t limited online. REI’s mission statement explains who the company is, what the company offers, and what life is like behind the scenes for employees and other stakeholders. Other companies have used their mission statements as a place to list core principles, beliefs, and strategies.

A mission statement can be as brief as a quote that states what a brand is setting out to do, or it can be thousands of words in length. The goal when trying to connect with audiences on an emotional level is to make the mission statement impactful. Every word should count. Every word should mean something. Mission statements that could be described as bloated or verbose are missing the emotional mark.

Understand your audience

Now that you’ve uncovered what your brand believes in and written a mission statement that explains why you exist, it’s time to turn the focus to your customers. 

What do your customers believe in? What will they stand up for? Understanding your customers on a deeper level is almost as important as understanding your own brand. It might even lead to making a few changes in your brand’s core beliefs and values.

How should you get to know your audience? 

One of the easiest ways to understand an audience is through social media. If your brand doesn’t already have a Facebook page or a Twitter account, it’s time to get moving. Social media channels like Instagram and Pinterest can give you valuable insights into who your customers are, as well.

Having a social media account is about more than just posting brand updates. It’s about looking outwardly to understand your audience. Take the opportunity to see what types of people follow your brand on social media and learn what types of content they’re posting on their own pages. What issues are they passionate about? What types of content are they most likely to retweet or share?

Identifying your audience can help determine how your brand moves forward. It will help you develop a brand ethos that is both inspirational and aspirational.

When getting to know your audience, there are some questions that can help on your journey:

  • What does this audience believe in?
  • How does our brand align with this audience’s aspirations?
  • How would these customers describe our brand?

Focus on the future when getting to know your customers. Don’t get hung up on past mistakes or marketing messages that were out of alignment with your current beliefs. Your vision for the future should give your audience an idea of how your brand will impact them on an emotional level.

Build better connections

Authenticity plays a key role in everything we’re talking about today. Consumers can smell a phony from a mile away. Don’t be that brand. Using emotion to build better connections with audiences requires that you go deep and fundamentally understand why you exist.

Building better connections also means injecting a bit of brand personality into the mix. Hopefully, your brand personality comes through in your mission statement and on your social media pages. 

You don’t always have to be deep to have an emotional impact. Sometimes people want to see a brand that isn’t afraid to poke fun at itself. As long as your brand personality conveys your core values, mission, and vision—and as long as it remains in the character of your brand—it’s OK to get creative, and even a bit silly.

Brand personality is the character of a business. It usually consists of the following four elements:

  1. Logo
  2. Typography
  3. Content Style
  4. Color Theme

You can tell a lot about a brand by the design on its website. The field of color science is dedicated to understanding the role that color plays in altering a person’s emotion and behavior. We know that certain colors evoke strong reactions. For example, blue is associated with power and red is known for being stimulating. 

Having a consistent brand personality that reflects your mission and values is one of the ways you can develop a deeper emotional relationship with customers. People know what to expect, and they have a clear idea of what your brand has to offer. The main purpose of having a consistent brand personality is to make your brand memorable and to help you stand out against competitors. 

Many brands will create a style guide that illustrates each aspect of the brand and includes the mission statement and brand personality for everyone in the company to review.

One example of a company that’s done an exceptional job of integrating emotion into brand personality is Apple. For decades, Apple’s branding strategy has relied on simplicity and clean design. The company’s website, social media channels, and products all reflect this consistent personality. Apple’s brand personality ties into emotion by making customers want to become a part of a movement. Customers feel like they are a part of something big and important when they join the Apple community. That emotional appeal is part of the draw.

Brand personality should shine through in your mission statement and core values. It’s important to have a consistent brand personality and a mission statement, not just one. Having a brand personality that’s inconsistent with the tone in your mission statement makes it harder for customers to connect on an emotional level. It also leads to lower levels of online engagement.

Hierarchy of needs

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs classifies emotional motivation through five tiers of social needs and biology. The five tiers consist of (1) physiological needs, (2) safety needs, (3) belongingness and love needs, (4) esteem needs, and (5) self actualization. 

How can Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs be applied to brand marketing?

When we talk about emotion, we talk about consumer needs and desires. Linking human psychology to brand marketing is a practice that’s been done for decades. Top brands, like Coca-Cola and Pepsi, have been able to apply Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs to influence large audiences and persuade people to buy their products.

As a practical application, always remain aware of where your customers are on Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs and how your products fit in. What tier are your customers on when they’re purchasing your products, and how can your brand ethos (or personality) impact purchasing decisions?

One last thing

Your brand’s story should be told in a way that involves your customers, your community, and everyone else around you. That makes people feel like they’re a part of your brand story, and it will help them stay connected to your company.

Storytelling on your website and social media channels should reflect the same brand principles we’ve outlined thus far, engaging your customers’ subconscious to create deeper connections.

As we move further into 2022, we’re seeing more brands tap into emotion through interactive, creative storytelling experiences. Brands are publishing short films on YouTube. They’re also developing interactive shows on social media channels like Instagram and TikTok.

Just look at Airbnb. The vacation rental marketplace tapped into its customers’ emotions with a series of YouTube videos focusing on how people supplement their income by becoming hosts on the platform. Airbnb’s videos were crafted to appeal to human emotion and the desire to help others. 

Emotion plays a role in everything we do as humans, and it should play a role in the experiences we create for customers as brand marketers, as well. 

What are your reasons for existing? We’re talking about every aspect of your brand. We’re not just looking to build deeper emotional connections with customers—although that is important—but also shareholders, partners, and employees. Bringing out the emotional side of your company with a purposeful mission statement and consistent brand personality is how great organizations differentiate themselves from the pack.

As a full-service creative marketing agency, CMDS offers a comprehensive range of branding strategies, marketing capabilities and website design services. Call us today at (732) 706-5555 to find out how our team can help you develop an effective brand marketing approach.

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