Creating deep, intrinsic emotional ties between brands and consumers is the holy grail of marketing. If a brand strikes the right chord with campaigns rich in heart and authenticity, consumers will jump on board for the long haul. Building emotional attachments builds profitability.
To cement long-term loyalty, brands must provide consumers with platforms to develop unique emotion-driven relationships with their purchases. Products involving individual interaction from consumer to brand will frequently fly off shelves.
Take, as a metaphor, my favorite subject—golden retrievers. You could think of them as a mass brand that becomes a unique luxury item once someone has acquired and named it. In the act of personalizing them, we infuse them with their individuality. At face value, there’s little to separate one golden retriever from another. In spite of this, we fashion personalities for them, setting our retrievers apart from their breed.
Nuances in behavioral quirks, walking pace and style, and subtle differences in appearance allow me to easily identify my own dogs from other retrievers. These are the characteristics we pinpoint and amplify in forming our pet’s unique personality.
We do it with technology, too. Many consumers lean on AI assistants for shortcuts, striving to simplify the frenetic hustle and bustle of daily life. We ask questions, make demands and receive quick responses without argument or inaccuracy (for the most part). Sounds like a perfect marriage.
“Alexa, play Bat Out of Hell.” “Siri, find flights to New York.” “Google, where can I buy a decent coffee?”
With increasing dependence on our cyber sidekicks comes a growing propensity to humanize them. To turn them into friends, allies, valued additions to the family. There’s an episode of “The Big Bang Theory” in which hapless singleton Raj falls in love with the computerized voice on his phone. “I’d like you to call me Sexy,” he instructs his new “soul mate.” I remember this romantic theme of human-computer interaction cropping up way back in the 1984 movie Electric Dreams—and more recently in the well-reviewed movie Her.
Of course, technology can’t feel emotion, but people are overflowing with the stuff. So, it’s unsurprising relationships are formed, albeit the kind that are exclusively one way (although rarely as intense as Raj’s affection for Siri).
Brands that play on this connection and explore the labyrinthine infinity of human emotion amass audiences ripe for the picking. We’re all capable of compassion, of empathy, of building relationships, of falling in love (sociopaths aside).
That’s why emotional branding will always soar above the rational in terms of sheer sentimental impact. Just recently, a New Jersey pizzeria owner’s decision to stick missing pet posters on his pizza boxes went viral.
Intentional or not, the heartfelt initiative has proved a spectacular marketing feat—and it didn’t cost the owner a single cent (apart from the paper for the pet prints). Frenzied social media shares spread the word for free. Nothing yields popularity quite like the tugging of heartstrings.
That isn’t to say rational marketing isn’t effective. It is a powerful tool utilized by brands wanting to demonstrate the usefulness of a product to their target market through logic and sensibility.
However, we coexist in a world where the air is thick with emotion—from happiness and elation to anger and frustration, and everything in between. We’re heavily influenced by what goes on around us. That is what successful brands tap into. Through emotional messaging, marketers can evoke longing for a product people didn’t even realize they wanted. Ads can prompt tears of joy or sadness. They resonate and spread like ripples in a pond. This is the might of emotional connection. And emotions sell like hot cakes.