How to get into the hearts
of your audience with the emotional

So, how can you make sure you’re building your emotional marketing strategies around the right feelings?
Crack open a dictionary or thesaurus, and you’ll find literally hundreds of words describing the different emotions we experience each day. Surprise, excitement, apathy, overwhelm. How do you combine all of those different things into an emotional marketing definition that informs your team?

Well, it may be simpler than you’d think. In 2014, the Institute of Neuroscience and Psychology found that all human emotion is based on four feelings: happiness, sadness, fear/surprise, and anger/disgust. With those four options in mind, let’s take a look at how you can use emotional appeal in marketing:

1. Happiness

All companies want their brands to be associated with happy, smiling customers, right? Positivity has a knack for increasing engagement and shares. In fact, a study conducted in 2010 covering the most-emailed New York Times articles discovered that emotional articles received the most shares, and positive posts got more attention than negative ones.

For a glimpse into how powerful emotional marketing strategies can be when you add happiness to the mix, you only need to take a look at the Android “Friends Furever” campaign from 2015. By pairing cute animals together, the tech company made their audiences smile and achieved the coveted status of a “viral” campaign.

2. Sadness

So, if all brands want to make their customers happy, why do we bother with other emotions in their emotional marketing strategies? The simple answer is that different feelings promote different results. In recent years, companies have begun to recognise the value of using emotional content to tug at the heartstrings of their customers.

Essentially, if you make your customers feel sad, and then promise them that you have the solution to do something about their negative feelings, you can rest assured that they’ll be more likely to act. For instance, MetLife Hong Kong created an ad campaign featuring a daughter describing the things she loves about her dad. The campaign starts off as heart-warming, then gradually becomes heart-breaking as the little girl describes the various ways her father lies to her.

3. Fear/surprise

Fear is a natural human instinct, and something we all feel at times. Whether you’re shrieking at a spider in the bathtub or fretting about the state of the world we live in today – fear is everywhere. In the world of emotional marketing campaigns, fear prompts people to act through urgency and a desire for self-preservation.

As a Mad Men episode once told us: Happiness is “freedom from fear”. For marketing professionals, fear is a far more complex emotion to work with than sadness or happiness. Take your fear-mongering too far, and you can end up angering your customers instead. One particularly nerve-wracking ad campaign that emerged in recent years came from the World Wildlife Fund. The WWF begged us to stop climate change, with creepy imagery designed to stick with their audience.

4. Anger/disgust

While most companies assume that it’s best to avoid angering their customers, this negative emotion can have a powerful impact in the right circumstances. Emotional marketing strategies that use feelings of anger and disgust can shake people out of their stupor and into action. When we see an injustice in the world that we want to change, we’re driven to do something about it.

For instance, the New York Times advert “The Truth is Hard” demonstrates how difficult it is for people in the modern world to get honesty in their media today. In a world of “fake news”, The New York Times used their advertisement to demonstrate their own commitment to honesty and transparency.

Finding the emotional appeal in marketing

Whether you’re launching a startup or running a successful business, emotional marketing is one of the easiest ways to make sure that your brand stands out. With emotion, you can build a real connection with your audience that goes beyond simply selling a product or service. After all, in such a crowded marketplace, it’s not enough to just have a great USP, you need your audience to buy into your brand’s ideology and values too.

Whatever you’re selling, an emotional marketing strategy can help your advertising campaigns to have more impact. So, which components do you need to consider when you’re trying to leverage emotional appeal in marketing?

1. Colour

We’ve discussed the psychology of colour in branding before here at Fabrik. Psychology shows us that the right shades can scientifically alter a person’s psychological, emotional, and behavioural state. While the cool blue of Facebook conveys a feeling of trust and reliability, the bright red of Coca-Cola indicates passion and excitement.

Many marketers take advantage of the colour phenomenon by getting to know their target audience and thinking carefully about the emotions they want to portray. The right shade could be the difference between an audience that trusts you, and customers that question your every move.

2. Content

Human beings love stories – it’s part of our nature. Ever since we were children, we’ve been learning about the world through carefully-crafted stories that spark our imaginations and generate an emotional response. Stories activate the parts of our brain that convince us we’re actually experiencing the story for ourselves, through a scientific process called neural coupling.

An emotionally-charged story in your content marketing campaign can even be enough to trigger the release of dopamine in a customer’s brain. This makes them feel happy and ensures that they have memories of your brand that will stick with them for longer.

3. Behaviour

When it comes to marketing, your emotional impact isn’t just conveyed by the words you say or the images that you use, but the things you do, too. Guerrilla marketing tactics and experiential campaigns that get you out there and involved with the community you’re trying to appeal to can improve the emotional weight of your marketing strategies.

For instance, if you claim to care about the environment, and you get involved with local sustainability drives to clean up your community, your customers can see that you’re authentic and credible. This builds an emotional connection based on feelings of affinity and trust.