Emotional Branding: How To Create a Loyal Customer Base [Infographic]

Customers buy from brands they trust. And trust is an emotional brain state. So, how can your marketing strategy help people get to that place?

Emotional branding helps you build relationships by making people feel certain things. Through your content, communication, and culture. When these all work together, they can inspire brand loyalty.

Consumers want a fully-developed brand experience. And they’re not afraid to shop around to find it. It’s not just about your product or service anymore. It’s how you make people feel when they interact with you.

Here are 5 ways to harness the power of emotional branding and inspire loyalty:

  1. Strive for social change as part of your ethos
  2. Use storytelling content to create an emotional connection
  3. Personalize any interaction with customers
  4. Learn from successful examples
  5. Use social proof and other marketing psychology tactics

Strive for social change as part of your ethos

Trust is a powerful emotional response. And people reward trusted brands with advocacy (61%), purchase (57%), loyalty (43%), and engagement (31%). 40% of people also stop buying from some brands they love because they don’t trust who owns them.

So, how can your brand earn people’s trust? Well, customers have to be able to relate to you. Not just what you sell. But what you stand for. 

Your employees too. 88% believe it is no longer acceptable for companies just to make money. They have to positively impact society too.

Source: Porter Novelli

Consumer behavior has changed a lot over the years. And it’s no coincidence that a lot of brands now have charity or sustainability schemes. Social impact has a huge effect on purchasing decisions for most people. Especially the Gen Z and Millennial demographics.

Your marketing campaigns need to show people the positive changes you’re making. You want to make customers feel like they’re doing good too by supporting you. But first, you need to know a few things:

  • What your company stands for (your brand story)
  • Who your target audience is
  • Which emotional response you want to target
  • Your overarching goal

Brands are uniquely positioned to drive shifts in consumer behavior. But you want to champion those that benefit communities and the environment. That’s what the majority of people can get on board with.

Source: Source Essay

How your brand can make social impact

You just need to:

  • Find the right cause
  • Figure out how your company can intersect
  • Craft authentic messages
  • Measure ROI

Unilever’s first social mission manager Myriam Sidibe has a lot of experience in this field. With the rise of deceptive techniques (like greenwashing), she was asked how marketing teams can show consumers an authentic campaign isn’t manipulative:

“[It] comes from the depth of commitment that the company and the brand would put on the table. And I think that starts becoming clear if you’ve stuck with it for a couple of years…I don’t believe that brands should talk before they’ve really shown progress and shown impact…”

With huge global events like climate change and the economic crisis, social good is more important and relevant than ever. So, if you’re already established or building a brand for the first time, you should factor this in.

Use storytelling content to create an emotional connection

Content on your blog and social media channels helps increase brand awareness. And everything you share is meant to highlight your core values and brand message. But the best kinds of stories show rather than tell. So, visual content marketing helps forge that emotional bond. 

It’s worth the effort, too. Emotionally-engaged customers have a higher lifetime value because they’re:

Source: USP

But how do you get them to that stage? Well, the idea is to shift your marketing focus from products to people. Here’s emotional advertising expert Marc Gobé talking about it:

A lot of it is based on your brand voice. Not just what you’re saying. But how you say it. So, you need to know your audience to determine how you speak to them.

When creating content, ask yourself:

  1. What do you want people to feel?
  2. What are the main takeaways of the story?
  3. What’s your CTA (call to action)?

Creating an emotional connection can be easy if you’re able to answer these questions each time. 

Examples of storytelling content

Think about non-profit emotional ads from countries at war. They:

  1. Shock and upset you
  2. Show the impact on families just like yours
  3. Compel you to donate

Negative emotions motivate us to act. But an emotional appeal can be positive too. You can be light-hearted and not take yourself too seriously:

You can choose other types of emotions to target too. Like Apple’s motivating “Think Different” campaign:

Whatever type of emotional marketing you go for, make sure it tells a story. And that the style of it fits into your brand image. If it seems fake, it won’t resonate.

Personalize any interaction with customers

You want to connect with customers on an emotional level. And personalized messages are the way to do it. They can help drive every stage of the customer journey through to conversions. Because they keep it relevant.

99% of marketers say personalization helps advance customer relationships. And that’s not surprising. Generic messages don’t appeal to anyone.

But to do this, you need data. You need to know who your customers are, where they’re from, and what they want. The more you know, the more you can personalize. And give everyone an individual experience.

Source: GIPHY

The most common interaction brands have with consumers is via customer support. You can use calls, email, or live chat. Many brands now use social media as their main customer support channel too. Twitter, Facebook Messenger, and Instagram are the most popular options.

For any messaging app, you can choose to set up automatic responses and use chatbots. This is especially helpful if your target audience is in a different time zone from your team. And these allow you to keep that personalized touch, even if it’s not coming from a human.

Source: ManyChat

They’re great for answering FAQs and directing customers to the right team. But chatbots are so advanced now, they can take things right through to the purchase stage.

80% of consumers feel more emotionally connected to a brand when customer service solves their problem. But it can also produce the opposite emotional response if you get it wrong. So, make sure users feel heard and keep the experience seamless.

Learn from successful emotional branding strategy examples

Coca-Cola is just soda. But why do we pay a premium for it over similar products? Because of the brand identity. 

The team’s whole marketing strategy promotes the sense of belonging and bonding. It taps into customer emotions. They even had a “Share a Feeling” campaign a few years ago:

They’re big on personalization too. Giving you the ability to choose a name and design to be printed on a can:

Source: Coca-Cola

It’s a simple idea. But one that easily forges an emotional connection.

There are lots of other templates for inspiration out there too. Some other case studies of emotional branding done right come from:

  1. Airbnb
  2. Netflix
  3. ESPN

Airbnb

Airbnb is all about wanderlust. And that’s a pretty powerful motivator. So, all of their emotional branding taps into it. The whole customer experience is supplied by Hosts all over the world. So, the business is based on community and belonging too.

Their “Made possible by Hosts” campaign is a slideshow of user-generated content to show the different kinds of trips that can happen. It makes you think of your own past travels. And feels very natural and relatable:

Yes, the images are taken by professional photographers. But they used their own friends and family for the shots. So, it doesn’t feel as staged as a lot of other travel advertising.

Netflix

Emotional branding doesn’t have to be a film or video, either. Netflix showed that an inspirational billboard ad could have the same effect.

They’ve used a form of collective nostalgia that taps into experiences most of us have. We all have dreams. And most of us have used DVDs in the past. Before technology evolved.

Source: The Inspiration

Their message motivates you to keep working towards your goals. But also to adapt to change (sorry, Blockbuster) and keep moving with the times. It also makes you think about childhood experiences. And that’s a lot of different emotions from a couple of lines.

ESPN

Music is directly linked to our emotions. It can give us chills and thrills. And ESPN returning to cover the NHL have jumped on the nostalgia bandwagon too. With Justin Bieber narrating to give it a pop culture spin:

They show the classic theme tune being updated with a live orchestra after a 17-year absence. It captures the excitement and suspense of hockey while championing the underdog (the composer). 

He explains how he created the music that became the theme of pro hockey for a generation of fans. The journey takes many viewers back to their childhood. All while reinvigorating the anticipation of the live sport returning.

Use social proof and other marketing psychology tactics

You probably think of yourself as a rational person. But we all have cognitive biases that help us make quick decisions when faced with choices. 

Neuroscience plays a bigger part in purchasing intent for potential customers than you’d think. Even the color or fonts on a brand’s site. And these elements can trigger different consumer emotions. Marketing psychology taps into these.

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs explains the physical, social, and emotional needs humans have. From food, sleep, and water to meeting your full potential in life (self-actualization):

If you make fast, luxury cars, you’re likely targeting ego gratification. Rather than safer, more cost-effective models for families with kids that’ll be lower on the scale.

Social proof is one of the most widely-used marketing psychology tactics. It’s sort of become the digital version of word-of-mouth marketing. Because we need other people to help validate our choices. Especially when we have to pay for them.

This validation can come in a couple of main forms:

  1. Reviews and testimonials
  2. User-generated content (UGC)

Reviews and testimonials

79% of shoppers trust online reviews from strangers just as much as people they know. Because they’re based on real human experiences. 

Well, they should be. Amazon is currently having issues with brands paying for fake, positive write-ups. But we’re not those brands. If people are complaining about your service or product, find out why and try fix it.

Source: Oberlo

Reviews can also bring on FOMO (fear of missing out). Because it’s a form of emotional motivation for people. If people read about great brand experiences, they want them too. They crave that feeling of belonging.

User-generated content

User-generated content is one of the most trustworthy types of content. And 79% of consumers say UGC highly impacts purchasing decisions. Because you’re getting the emotional reaction straight from the user. 

Source: Social Media Today

You can post all day long about how great your product is. But a single post from a happy customer has far more impact. 

There’s no downside to this form of emotional branding, either. You’re not spending any time or money creating it. So, any engagement and brand awareness is a bonus.

Conclusion

Emotional branding is about making the customer journey as relevant as possible. People want to feel like you care about them. But also that you’re using your platform to make an impact. That way, they feel like they’re doing good too by supporting you.

Emotions are powerful motivators. So, get to know your customers. That’s the basis of finding out how to make them stick around. If you know their motivations and pain points, you can build a brand identity that’ll resonate.

Have you seen content that’s really made you feel something recently? Which emotion has the biggest impact on potential customers? Let us know in the comments below.

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