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How to Leverage Emotional Branding to Grow Your Business

Jared Atchison
Jared Atchison
Co-Founder at WPForms

Using emotion can help you create an impactful brand identity.

Creating a memorable brand is one of the key ingredients to a successful business. And to make a brand that sticks in your audience’s minds, you need to incorporate emotions.

We often rest the bulk of our brands' identities on colors, logos, and other design elements. But these factors lack power if they don't create emotions in your target market. Think of major brands like Apple, Dove, Nike, and others. Aside from their distinct look, they also create instant associations with specific feelings and ideas.

Dove is tied with body positivity and Apple brings to mind innovation, forward-thinking, and self-expression. These emotions are not accidental; they are examples of emotional branding in action. 

What is emotional branding? 

You very likely have a good idea about what emotional branding is. It's the use of branding elements and strategies to deliberately appeal to your audience’s emotional state, beliefs, and needs.

It’s different from marketing approaches that many business owners typically use, instinctively focusing on providing their audience with objective technical details as reasons to buy. This should come further down the marketing and sales funnels when your leads do research and take action i.e. to buy from you. 

So, how can you practically leverage emotional branding in your business? Let’s find out.  

How to define your purpose 

Your emotional branding activities start when you define your purpose. 

What is the real purpose of your business? What makes you, as a leader, get up and strive to make your business successful? 

These questions aren’t easy to answer. Your first response to these questions may be "to make a profit." But you need to dig deeper than that. The real purpose behind your business has to do with values and the drive that makes you excited. It can be creating something new that never existed before or finding a solution to a pressing issue. 

One of the best works available today to help you with understanding your purpose is Start With Why by Simon Sinek. He explains why your "Why" matters in business. When you can clearly define and share your passion with your audience, you'll connect with them at an emotional level. 

Even though we think we act in a rational way, the reality is that make decisions based on beliefs and emotions. Only then do we use rationality to justify the decisions we make. 

Understanding your own purpose for starting a business and creating your solutions taps into the emotional aspect of your brand. Once you know what defines your core values, you’ll find it easier to create a strong brand identity. 

How to mindfully shape your design elements

Your purpose or "Why" is the inspiration for the message you send out to your audience. And the design elements you use will act as the carrier for your message. Let's look at how you can craft elements of your brand identity to build emotions. Some thoughtfulness in creating these design and communication styles will have long-term positive results that make it easier to shape your brand image. 

Colors

Colors are the foundation of a powerful brand story. When building your brand, come up with a color palette that you apply to your logo, website, printed material, and advertisements. Blacks and greys interspersed with white often reference grittier and darker emotions. While bright yellows and oranges convey warmth. Learn about the psychology of colors and leverage this to create the right impressions in your audience. 

Typography

Your choice of fonts needs to be consistent across all the media you use. It's also a powerful tool to create emotions. Compare the choice of fonts used in a mom blog and those applied to financial websites. Keep your industry and audience expectations in mind and ask yourself what kind of emotions people feel with regard to specific topics. 

We associate topics like motherhood, cooking, and crafts with warm and friendly feelings. You'll find that many blogs on these topics use decorative and handwritten fonts. For a subject concerning taxes and investments, a font with minimal decorative elements is appropriate. In this way, combine fonts to support the primary emotions you want to create. 

Visual imagery

Images play a key role in your content. It’s important to plan the kind of imagery you're going to use across advertisements, blog posts, and other media. 

You can opt to add only vectors and graphics to convey playfulness. Adding a consistent filter across photographs will create a brand aesthetic that makes your business easy to recognize. 

Your logo is also another key visual asset that you can leverage to create emotions. Think about companies that focus on environmentally-friendly products and practices. They frequently use design elements that reflect nature to convey what they do. By keeping a consistent visual vocabulary across your content, you’ll generate appropriate emotions in your audience.

How to tell a story

Stories have always had a place in people’s hearts. They serve as lessons and often bring up fond memories. Dove is a good example of a brand that creates powerful stories. 

Their advertisements and content focus on women, body positivity, and self-acceptance. And their message resonates with billions of people around the world. 

There are many ways you can tell your own story. Share your business's background, your reason for starting a business, or even information about your partners and employees. Brands that deal in commodities like coffee, tea, and cocoa beans often highlight their partnership with farmers. Their relationship with their partners and the focus on fair trade create impactful brand stories.  

Another thing to consider is your business’s voice in today’s social issues. With much of your audience active and vocal on social media, staying silent is not always feasible. You could consider making your social causes a key part of your brand story. 

Patagonia, an outdoor clothing brand, makes its activism the main message on social media and on its website. You could adopt a similar narrative in your own brand message or take inspiration from it to tell a story. 

How to converse with your audience

Another simple but impactful change you can make is to deliberately choose a tone of voice to create an emotional connection. Brands like Old Spice and the Dollar Shave Club speak to their audience directly and in a casual way. Their content is fun, humorous, and speaks to the less serious side of their market. 

In your own marketing communications, make sure that you’re using a conversational tone. Referring to your audience as ‘You’ and speaking in simple sentences will humanize your brand. It can make your audience feel like there are real people behind the brand name and logo.  

Also, don’t be afraid to use emojis in your content. Research shows that 56% of brands that used emojis in their email subject lines saw a higher open rate than those that didn’t. Emojis add a layer of friendliness to your content and help defuse materially that might appear negatively charged. 

How to bring it all together on social media 

We’ve looked at several elements that you can work with to create emotional reactions in association with your brand. And one of the most important things you can do with this is to leverage the right platforms, especially social media. 

Your audience already relies heavily on social media for information and to feel a sense of belongingness in society. Consider these social media findings:

  • 20% of people say they can't go an hour without checking social media

  • Some 36% of people are afraid of feeling like an outsider which makes them want to use social media to belong more

  • 40% of people spend money every year just to post it on social media

  • And 27% of people flock to social sites as soon as they wake up

It's clear that social media impacts people’s emotions through the content that appears on their feeds. Your brand needs to have a strong presence on social network platforms with engaging content posted regularly. 

Use all the elements we've looked at so far and bring them together on social media. You’ll improve your chances of making your posts go viral and generate interest in your brand. 

The most effective way for your business to stand out from the competition is to create an emotional connection with your audience. When you build a strong brand that makes audiences feel something, you’ll win their loyalty and convert them into customers.

Make use of the information given here to build a brand that matters to people and you'll be certain to see your business grow.

Image Credit: scyther5/Getty Images
Jared Atchison
Jared Atchison
business.com Member
See Jared Atchison's Profile
Co-Founder of WPForms, one of the largest WordPress contact form plugins in the market. I have been programming for over a decade and enjoy creating plugins that help people create powerful web designs without touching code.