Great brands evoke something in consumers. When consumers feel something about a brand, they're more engaged, more loyal, and more likely to take action.
Building an emotional connection with consumers begins with your brand positioning. Brands that inspire do more than understand their audience. They exist to fill a need for them.
They do this in two ways. They get around the "so what?" question by delivering a benefit. And they share a philosophy and a mindset that reflects that of the consumers they want to reach.
Truly successful brands find that sweet spot between solving a problem and evoking a certain set of emotions. Because emotional branding leads to emotional marketing — and emotional marketing sells.
Now is not the time for mixed emotions
Emotions can be complex and intertwined. But to build a clear, powerful brand that's always on point, you need to identify the emotion at the crux of your offer. Are you bold? Joyous? Energetic? Elegant? When you know, you can start building a brand that supports this offering at every level — from your name to your products to your marketing collateral.
An energetic brand is unlikely to use a grayscale color palette and Times New Roman fonts for example. And an elegant brand probably won't use exclamation marks or boast an edgy name.
There's a reason that Walmart added a bright yellow "spark" to its new logo — it ties in with its upbeat "live better" positioning. And there's a reason that Toys 'R' Us and Fisherprice use rounded, colorful lettering and design elements. These brands are the opposite of serious: they're fun!
Let's take a look at how you can develop a brand that evokes that feeling so central to your positioning.
Don't be yellow. Show your true colors.
Brands can take advantage of color to awaken certain emotions in consumers — and many do. Research shows that red and yellow are appetite-stimulating colors. No wonder they loom large in fast food. McDonald's, Burger King, Sonic and Pizza Hut all use them. Green, on the other hand, evokes calmness and environmentalism. Think Whole Foods, Seventh Generation and Kroger's Simple Truth "organics" line.
Some brands' entire visual identity is tied to a particular trademarked color. Think Cadbury purple, Tiffany robin egg blue or Veuve Cliquot's mustard yellow. All are instantly recognizable at a glance. And all are so intrinsically tied into a brand's identity that they evoke a particular range of feelings and emotions. A Tiffany's box isn't a box — it's a life-changing moment in someone's life.
Color doesn't exist in a vacuum. It heightens your brand tone, messaging and ethos. It's a powerful tool that can be used to instantly evoke emotions associated with particular hues — or to evoke those you've successfully associated with your brand.
You're only as good as your words.
We're not as logical as we like to think. We buy based on emotion, not rational decision-making. Here's where language is your friend: language is power. It has the ability to stir feelings, capture a sentiment and spur you into action.
Brands that use language to their advantage have an advantage. Language is flexible, emotional and nuanced.
Use it in unusual or surprising ways, and you create a world with its own special dialect — a place of in-group belonging. Look at fitness phenomenon Crossfit. Its members aren't just "gym-goers". They're "athletes". They train at "boxes", not "gyms". And instead of doing routines or classes, they undertake "WODs". This language helps people identify as part of a tribe — evoking feelings of belonging and empowerment.
Going against the grain is another way to make language work in your favor. Take RxBar. Health food marketing is all about making claims about health, innovation and holistic ingredients. RxBar turns this on its head by showing its ingredients up front — underpinned by the line "No B.S." It's got everything consumers in this niche want, but uses language that the others don't.
When you're branding with language, dig deep and get expressive. We're all storytellers at heart, so tell that brand story the way only you can!
Every picture has sentimental value.
Visuals deliver impact without parallel. Imagery helps paint the world of your brand in critical ways. The right visual assets can transform your print collateral, your website or your products into an inspiring experience that drives an emotional response.
Visual elements function just like color and language. They're aligned with certain feelings, values and moods. A busy, lively website says something different from one that's mostly white space. Hand-drawn sketches say something different from professional fashion photography.
It's not just the elements themselves that evoke feelings — the choices you make around those elements do, too.
Human faces, for example, create a sense of belonging, inclusion and trustworthiness. If your brand foregrounds consumer voices or prides itself on its transparency, imagery containing real people can set you apart. You'll see this approach in lifestyle brands — think health, wellness and even banking and insurance.
Close-up photos of ingredients or materials, on the other hand, emphasize the artisanal and the hand-made. You'll see this approach among luxury and organic products, a market where consumers care as much about what goes into a product as the end results.
In the end, it's all about them
And that choice comes from understanding. To create emotionally powerful branding, you need to understand your audience and their needs. Everything you do should be designed to suit the needs, wants and passions of your ideal customer - after all, they're the one you're doing this for.
Truly evocative branding doesn't just communicate — it responds. And the connection that arises as a result is what sets good brands apart from the great ones. So go on. Be great!