Recently, emotional branding has emerged as a new paradigm that can solve one of the main tasks of marketing: to unite a company and customer, to establish a strong and at the same time very effective relationship between them. To please their customers, marketers, building the image of a particular brand, can exploit a wide variety of emotions: joy and nostalgia, inspiration and passion, pride and sympathy – and transmit a wide variety of messages in their context, the purpose of which, as a rule, is the same: to interest potential buyers of the brand.:
Recently, emotional branding has emerged as a new paradigm that can solve one of the main tasks of marketing: to unite a company and customer, to establish a strong and at the same time very effective relationship between them. To please their customers, marketers, building the image of a particular brand, can exploit a wide variety of emotions: joy and nostalgia, inspiration and passion, pride and sympathy – and transmit a wide variety of messages in their context, the purpose of which, as a rule, is the same: to interest potential buyers of the brand.
Emotions are the one primary reason why consumers prefer brand name products and not just any ordinary product. Advertisements play a crucial role in making or breaking a brand. As quoted by Zig Ziglar, Iconic Salesman and Motivational Speaker: “People don’t buy for logical reasons. They buy for emotional reasons.” Emotions play an important role in successful advertising campaigns but ads in general don’t talk about the effects of using the products for example: Pepsi and Coca-Cola don’t talk about fat, calories, and diabetes rather their focus is more on youth, vitality, and good times while Chocolate is associated with luxury, indulgence, and sensuality. Despite millions of years of emotions us humans rely heavily on emotions to make decisions. Oftentimes we end up making the pros and cons list when making a purchase, say you wanted to buy a washing machine and you ended up making this list. End of the day, regardless of all the data analysis you conducted about the washing machine your decision to buy was made by one of the primal regions of the brain that actually does not make you so smart. Because this is so essential we as marketers need to learn to connect emotionally with customers and clients.
William J. McEwen in his article “Getting Emotional about the brand” claims that all the emotional connections created by marketers are focused on customer attention. Moreover, the author mentions that the companies moved to “generating customer commitment”, “delight,” and even “evangelism”—all of which represent enduring psychological bonds that link a customer to a company” (McEwen, 2005).
Another interesting relationship between emotions and consumer is discussed in the book “Strategic Brand Management” (2011) by the authors Elliot, Percy and Pervan. First of all they distinguish the meaning of emotion and feeling. Secondly, the authors point on the six primary emotions: surprise, anger, fear, disgust, sadness and joy (Ekman (1992)) and secondary, which are uncontrolled by our nervous system. (cf. Damasio, 1999, and others). The ability to understand the complexity of human emotions is fundamental for brands to communicate with consumers.
The studies of Markus and Kitayama (1991) also show that the cultural differences have to be taken into consideration. For example, if you are from Asian culture you are focused more on the relatedness of individuals to each other, while Western people are more about individual and inner attributes. This statement is important to understand for marketers in the perspective of how to influence consumer decision depending on his environment. At the same time William J. McEwen claims that some companies that are not good at creating emotional connections with their customers.
Another problem highlighted in the book “Strategic Brand Management” is described by Zajonc (1980), who suggests that we form a preference first based on emotional response and then justify it to ourselves cognitively. It means that consumers tend to experience the feelings of regret or self-blame after their purchase. As a result, according to the theory of Motivated Choice (Kunda, 1990), people search out the evidence which supports their desired outcome. The author gives an example of the expensive camera purchase and the tendency people have to look for identical product advertisement after purchase just to prove their final decision. To sum up, consumers tend to look for rational reasons of their emotion-driven choices.
I the book “How Neuroscience Can Empower (and Inspire) Marketing” by Douglas Van Praet the author convinces us that our behaviours of purchasing are determined mainly by subconscious influences.
Following this issue, Daniel Kahneman in the article “Nothing More Than Feelings” gives the explanation of the feeling as a form of thinking. He uses new terms, such as System One and System Two, where System One is the fast, automatic and intuitive approach of brain, while System Two is more analytical and reasonable. In “Thinking, Fast and Slow”, Daniel Kahneman comes to the conclusion that the advertisement and media is dealing with the System One of the consumers. As a result, people prefer to buy automatically without rational approach. In his article the author points on an important issue of the tricks marketers use in their advertisement. The whole idea is to play on peoples’ emotions and make them buy the product using their System One. As a result, people are not going to think directly of the product when it comes to the choice they will think of the emotions that they it will bring them. The example of the phenomenal success of Cadbury’s Dairy Milk Gorilla advertisement proves the theory of Daniel Kahnerman, that emotions are more important than information for the consumer.
On this stage of literature review raises another issue: how to ‘measure’ the emotions. The answer can be found in the article “How to Measure Brand Emotion” (2004) written by Percy and Hansen. The authors first give the explanation about the concept of emotions and how it corresponds with the range of primary emotions (surprise, anger, fear, disgust, sadness and joy), which were mentioned also by William J. McEwen in his article “Getting Emotional about the brand”. Percy and Hansen prove that the primary emotions lead to long-term action, which creates our associations with the brand and as a result influents purchase intentions. Secondly, the article presents the study about measuring emotion-brand associations covering 64 brands. The interesting conclusion was made about shampoo brands. By representing the results of the research, the authors of the article show that people have positive emotional associations with Dove and Sanex but negative ones with Head & Shoulders. While ’users’ and ‘non-users’ results illustrate that actual users of Head & Shoulders shampoo have very positive emotions about the brand. As Percy and Hansen summarise: “Our experiences with brands, or in terms of actual use or simply an understanding of them, will have emotional associations linked to them in memory” (Percy 2004). Another important tool for managers to understand their brand is establish trust between the consumer and the brand. The concept of the trust and confidence in brands is raised by Elliot, Percy and Pervan in “Strategic Brand Management” (2011). The ‘Theory of trust’ shows that :“Trust is required only in situations of high perceived risk; at other times confidence or mere familiarity will suffice for action to ensue” (Elliott, 2011).
One of the issues we have mentioned in the literature review is about emotions affecting purchasing behaviour. Professor of Neuroscience at the University of Southern California, Antonio Damasio argues that emotion is required in almost all decisions. He performed research on subjects who had emotional impairment but their thinking abilities were unaffected. When they were asked to make simple decisions such as the food they would like to eat they stated that they should have reasons for doing so but they were still unable to arrive at a final choice. Research from various universities show that most of our modern emotions stem from 4 core feelings; happiness, sad, afraid and angry. Looking at how emotions can affect the buying behaviour starts with particular emotions that we have to focus on. University of Pennsylvania social psychologist Jonah Berge studied that positive emotions are much more likely to be shared than articles about sad topics. According to another Harvard Professor Gerald Zeltman, the answers to all the questions regarding emotions affecting consumer behaviour is directly related to the subconscious mind. Zeltman In his book “How Customers think: Essential insights into the mind of the market” talks about marketers understanding behaviour of customers that they are not aware of themselves. One of the approaches that he suggests is to cross check stated beliefs with actual behaviour. Many consumers report handling competing brands by comparing the prices when it comes to the point of purchase, but according to Zeltman’s experiments consumers don’t even look at the alternatives when it comes to a particular brand.
Although, the idea of exploring the subconscious mind of the consumers boils down to the fact of being an advertising strategy. The belief when it comes to advertising is that a higher attention span means a higher recall rate and that influenced the effectiveness of the advert. Most of the early discussions about emotions and branding were based around the concept of brand personality. As the majority of texts on Branding define brand personality as how people should feel about a particular brand over time. In a few studies, it has also been found that a brand relationship is similar to relationship amongst people and is comprehensible. Hence, emotional advertising does play a role in creating an emotional relationship between the potential user and the brand.
Here arises the next issue: how emotions, feelings and moods are actually used in brand advertising? In the modern world, the amount of information is growing at such a rate that a person does not have time to absorb it. Due to overload and fatigue, people are often unable to distinguish between important and not important information. Over-saturation of the information field affects the quality of data processing, making analysis, synthesis, exclusion and comparison more complicated. At the same time they are necessary for rational thinking.
As a result, companies find ways to interact with the part of the brain that is associated with emotions and feelings. Thanks to social networks and the advent of the digital world, companies have new opportunities for using emotions in advertising. If the marketer does not know which emotions to activate, he will evoke emotions that match the product. To sell an adventure tour, customers need to feel excited, while for a serene trip, customers need to be relaxed and calm. Marketers use different emotions and feelings to get different results. Psychologists have been studying human emotions for some time, and they’ve identified a number of them, ranging from “anger” to “disgust” and from “envy” to “love.” (McEwen, 2004). We will give examples of main emotions to show how they are used in the advertisement:
Fear and Wonder
The definition of ‘fear’ in “Semantics, Surplus Meaning, and the Science of Fear” by Joseph E. LeDoux is “the feeling that invades your conscious mind when you are in danger.” Many marketers bring anxiety to their target customers, activating the centre of fear in their brain, that makes the consumer feel ‘need’ rather than ‘desire’ in your product. Fear pushes us to urgent action to change or buy something that will prevent terrible things. Fear in advertising has roots in the 1920’s when Listerine created the advertisement asking people to fight with bad smell. The idea was about the young beautiful woman who cannot get married because of her bad breath. For example fear is used by the world wildlife fund to advertise the detrimental effects of global warming.
Joy and Happiness
Most of the brands want them to be associated with a laugh, smile or happy customers. However, positivity has an indirect effect on increasing sales. The point is that positive information is much better distributed among people than negative.
Joyful feeling in the advertisement can be seen in 1971, when Coca-Cola released “I’d Like to Buy the World a Coke” commercial. Bill Backer commented his creation “I began to see a bottle of Coca-Cola as more than a drink … [it was] a tiny bit of commonality between all people, a universally liked formula … I could see and hear a song that treated the whole world as if it were a person – a person the singer would like to help and get to know” (Bill Baker). The idea of happiness worked well for Coca-Cola and the success was tremendous. And in the summer of 2015 Coca-Cola released the choose happiness promotion that is a powerful example of encouraging consumers to share happy moments and experiences that make them happy. Coca-Cola rallied on using the consumer’s emotions.
Sadness makes us empathise and feel intimacy. Moreover, this makes us generous and also eliminates fear. At first, the advertisement makes its customers feel sad, and then promises them that buying is the solution to improve their mood. The famous brand to use the feeling of sadness in his advertisement is Burger King. It begins with the words: “Not everybody wakes up happy”. We can see a lonely man sitting on his bed as a start of the new Burger King ad. “All I ask is that you let me feel my way”. This is also an answer to the McDonald’s Happy Meals. A lot of brands have understood the importance of using emotional information that creates public awareness about some social issues like gender equality, poverty, lonely people, race or gender discrimination and others. For example: “Unsung hero” the TVC Thai Life Insurance commercial where a guy is seen helping people and going out of his way and in return he receives are just emotions, it’s hard not to connect and feel the emotions of this advertisement.
Anger and Disgust
In some cases, anger can provoke people and make them act. I the case of brand management these feelings can stimulate the consumers. Disgust and frustration can make us think about our point of view and ask important questions. When we see the injustice in the world that we want to correct, we are forced to do something about it. For example, in the world of fake news, media can use their ads to demonstrate their commitment to honesty and objectivity. The brand Always has filmed a video called “Like a Girl,” where the characters are asked to do something like the girls do it. At the same time, the guys exaggerate the movements of the girls, which causes insult and anger.
The last issue we studied is about trust and the brand. Although there has been substantial research on how emotions play an important role in establishing a strong brand relationship we have to realise that emotions are not static. (Morris and Crane, 2007) define as emotions “as a state of physical and mental readiness that involves directional force, evaluative appraisal, a target and behavioural tendencies.” Trust on the other hand has been defined by (Moorman et.al 1993) as “a willingness to rely on an exchange partner in whom one has confidence.” Generally, trust is affected by perceptions of the trustee’s ability, integrity, and benevolence, but in addition, these attributes are also influenced by past experiences and the trustee’s reputation (Butler, 1991). If we consider marketing as a tool to create a strong bond between consumers and brand then trust is the key ingredient in it. Trust as we know in daily situations comes with familiarity. For example, we buy a certain detergent all the time we have to purchase it because we have been familiar with the advantages of using it over time and we trust that it can clean our clothes.
As we have discussed in this essay one can notice how important emotions are when it comes to brand loyalty and building brand relationships. Emotions as we mentioned clearly affect purchase behavior. As we progress in the essay we have focused on particular emotions that can be used in advertising. Each of them are associated with different ways brand use emotions to convey their message and build a brand relationship with them. We definitely understand that emotional branding plays a huge role in a brand’s life. However, companies must be careful about how they use emotion to reach customers by taking into account culture, which can have an important impact on the advertising efficiency.