Branding: Connecting emotionally with consumers

Consumers don’t remember messages..they remember moments.  Using emotion in selling & advertising is a great way to touch your audience yet we don’t see that much in today’s advertising.  Why ?  A lot of reasons but mostly because creative people spend too much time being creative and less time asking “what are we really selling here and how can we communicate it via emotion?”

There’s a Subaru commercial where a father is explaining to his daughter what to do as she takes the family car out for the first time.  In the spot we see a little girl and then eventually as she pulls the car out of the driveway we see his teenage daughter.  It is a powerful spot because the reality for most parents is that we all see our sons and daughters as kids no matter how old they are.  This is a great way to make an emotional connection with consumers which is important today because consumers remember moments not brands.


Believe it or not consumers do want to connect emotionally with some brands.  Trek bikes, Starbucks and Apple all have a loyal following of consumers who share their experiences with the brand via social media and thus become brand ambassadors.

I believe that every creative brief needs to have an action item of “connecting emotionally with our audiences”.   Creative people, which are more times than not men, try to be too damn creative and forget that emotion sells.  They often can’t access that part of their brain because they are men and men usually don’t think emotionally.  In fact there have been more calls for women in creative rolls because woman often act and think emotionally first.

Marketers also need to understand that people who talk about their brands via social media often do so out of emotion.  Either they are angry at your brand and want to let others know (i.e. McDonalds McRib Twitter experiment) or they love what you are doing and want to let the whole world know (i.e. Apple & Trek Bikes).  When engaging people via social media try and shut off the MBA part of your brain and think like an emotional consumer.  In the same situation what do you want to hear from the brand/company ? Some brands get it but according to research almost 70% of brands using Twitter are not responding to customers the way customers want to be heard.

There is still a lot of work to do to change the thinking around selling but it starts with a simple questions of “how do we connect emotionally with our customers ?”

5 thoughts on “Branding: Connecting emotionally with consumers

  1. You have to be careful here, Richard. I was totally traumatized by a Kodak commercial in the late 1970s. I had a new child and every time I saw it, I cried. It had the words, “Turn around and you’re tiny. Turn around and you’re grown. Turn around and you’re a parent with kids of your own.”

    Oops, it still gets to me.

    • You are soo right but emotion that reaches you is better than no emotion at all. As a pet owner I can’t watch the ASPCS commercials because they make me feel so sad so I will turn the channel while they run.

      • I think it’s safe to say that emotion in advertising doesn’t have the same effect as it used to. In 1970, emotion might have made a strong impact but today we are so consumed with adds from mobile to outdoor that we have become desensitized to it.

  2. Emotions are how folks connect with a brand. If they connect life moments to your products and have a touchstone back to it, they will become loyal fans for life.

  3. Richard, I can’t watch those animal commercials either and I do the same thing. On the other hand I love the Pedigree commercial with the dogs with false teeth. They also donate money to dog shelters for every bag I buy. I am a stalwart fan.

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