The idea that brands should create emotional connections with their consumers has grown dramatically over the last 20 years.  Most marketers now understand that emotions can be powerful drivers of consumer behavior.  The stronger the emotional connection, the greater the consumer engagement.  The greater the consumer engagement, the higher the financial rewards.  That said, even with this growing awareness, the specific way that emotions manifest in marketing is still not universally clear.

Perhaps because the human brain has two lobes, it is commonly thought that it can somehow compartmentalize the things it experiences into two (metaphorical) sides, one rational and logical, and the other irrational and emotional.  As the thinking goes, when one, say, ponders the thought “1+1=2”, that comes from the logical side.  On the other hand, when one falls in love, that involves the emotional part of the brain.  Some even believe in a Divided Brain theory, where decisions are a function of a veritable tug of war in the brain between logical and emotional sides.  With respect, I think this is all bunk.  

In thinking about human cognition, there is really no "logical/rational" side.  100% of our experience and thinking is driven, to one degree or another, by emotional factors. 

Our eyes actually see the world upside down. Our brains process the signal from our optic nerve in a way that we can better understand it.   Similarly, our engagement with the world is processed through an emotional filter that is derived from the emotional impact of our past experiences and future aspirations.  Everything that we encounter comes through that dynamic filter such that our experiences are at least tinged with some degree of emotion.  So, in the end, everything is a function of our emotions, it’s just that some things are far more emotionally powerful than others.  Our consideration of a math problem might be decidedly less emotional than, say, a longing embrace with a loved one - but it still fits on the same emotional continuum that all of life’s experiences exist on.  

Practically, even a discussion of, say, physics - which might seem decidedly logical - is only so until we examine the emotional frame around that experience.  Who is teaching and what is your relationship with that person?  Where are you learning about it and what are your feelings about that place?  What else is going on in the room/school/place that is simultaneously impacting you?  You get the point.

So, as marketers, what does this mean?  

The first consumer transaction is emotional.  Marketers must earn their consumers' emotional currency before they can win their trust and financial patronage.  

The true power in brand relationships is in leveraging the emotional potential of your product to connect with the corresponding emotional realities of your consumers.  

You’ve got to identify what is important to your consumers and then articulate your brand's overall value proposition in a way that includes both physical benefits, but also relevant emotional upside.  

Those marketers who give short shrift to emotions, essentially, leave branding potential - and therefore revenue and profits - on the table.  Along with product excellence, emotions are the key variable in driving brand growth.  You have no choice but to under-perform your business if you fail to fully consider the role that emotions play in your brand strategy.

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Tags: behavior, brand, branding, consumer, emotion, emotional, marketing, strategy


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