While marketing has a lot of goals – raise awareness, educate and drive buying activity – the means to arrive at those goals are even more varied. Marketing professionals generally agree that you need to design marketing to get noticed, differentiate yourself from the competition, enforce a message and plant a “seed” in consumers. That “seed” can be a lot of things: a desire for status, a need for convenience, or a message that one brand is superior to another. It’s emotion, however, that may be the biggest driver of marketing of all. A landmark study conducted in the 1980s found that advertisements that evoke emotion are 45 percent more likely to be remembered by target markets than those that don’t.
What type of marketing gets shared the most and commented upon the most? Often, it’s the funny commercials (“Where’s the beef?”), the clever and highly shareable social media spots or the videos that cause a lump in the throat (Budweiser’s post-September 11th television spot, for example.) In a recent article for Biz Community, Nkgadiment Ramela calls it “emotive branding,” or the connection of brands with people on an emotionally meaningful level.
“It is clear that brands are recognizing the importance of having something that evokes a deeper meaning and connection, than, just trying to appeal to consumers in a basic way,” he wrote. “The price war in a unstable economy almost forces brands to be more creative in finding a deeper and unique memorable differentiator.”
Once upon a time, emotive branding was limited by the marketing channels available: perfume ads included a sample of their fragrance in
magazines, for example. Video has always been effective, but television advertisements have traditionally been available to only the largest companies with the deepest pockets. The plethora of channels available today means that brands can afford to go multichannel, and they can afford to use video (think of how brands use QR codes to turn a static image on a page or a subway poster into a YouTube video on a consumer’s phone).
“Connectivity is soon becoming the buzz word in various communications disciplines,” wrote Ramela. “Because after all, consumers have emotions and the more you appeal to their deeper thought process the better your brand connection and this can very well increase sales volumes and more importantly brand loyalty.”
Of course, finding the right emotional tone is easier said than done. What’s funny to one group of people may be a little distasteful or even offensive to others. Advertisements meant to convey patriotism or acknowledge a national tragedy can often seem exploitative and tone-deaf, and those meant to seem “sexy” have brought an avalanche of cries of sexism down on the brand’s head. Likewise, ads meant to be funny by showing an inept father and a small child have provoked concerns about child welfare. (Find some of the worst ads of 2015 aggregated by Business Insider here.)
Marketing with emotion is not a place to learn on the job. Be sure to consult professionals and try the campaign out with test audiences before you go big with it. (And be sure to vary the demographics of the test subjects.) While emotive marketing done properly could have a good payoff, it can likewise damage a brand quickly if done ineptly.