Taking emotional temperatures

Taking emotional temperatures

Marketers are no strangers to the value of tapping into their target audiences’ emotions.

We need only look at Coca Cola to see a marketing message that has little to do with a brown liquid and instead centres on the emotion of happiness. The same can be said of most major brands. Nike applauds the inner hero, Volvo cocoons and Persil loves us getting dirty. 

What is much less talked about, however, is the value of a brand taking its own emotional ‘temperature’.

The good, the bad and the ugly

Trying to define which emotions are most likely to accelerate brand growth is an exercise in futility, particularly if marketers have not first identified which ones their brand is already eliciting from its consumers. This soul searching exercise involves honestly reviewing the good with the bad. Identifying and eradicating negative associations is essential to building a thriving brand.

In some cases, a brand may not even elicit an emotion. This is something that Frobisher’s encountered when they measured their emotional brand status and found they had no emotional connection with their consumer. In effect, they were simply selling a product in the crowded fruit juice sector.

It took some serious soul searching to move beyond the confines of their product and uncover the buried heart of their brand. Their heritage in juice was based on an unwavering focus on premium produce. This realisation became the platform from which to affirm they really do know everything there is to know about juice.

Consumer research pointed at a gap in the market for an alternative fruit juice that was premium but not preachy. Consumers were tired of being told how good something might be for them – they just wanted a brand they could intrinsically trust. By communicating their superior knowledge and a heritage of premium produce, Frobishers now tap into their consumers’ emotional need for trust without the fuss.

Aligning with what the marketer wants the consumer to ‘feel' and ‘experience' has to start with owning the current narrative they are unintentionally telling.

New consumer frontiers

Gone are the days when demographics were a marketer’s only reliable guiding system. Research now confirms that on average 50% of purchase decisions are based on emotion. In some categories, such as premium vodka, this can reach as high as 90%.

It is emotions that drive purchase behaviour, loyalty and advocacy, not a postal code or particular gender.

Jensen’s Gin believed they understood their customers and were responding to their emotional cues. Yet, after a period of rapid growth, they found their sales started levelling out. They realised that the only way to continue on an upward curve was to first take their own brand ‘temperature’.

This highlighted the fact that despite their best intentions, they were selling a product, not a brand. In recalibrating their brand communications, they realised they were much more than great gin. They were at the forefront of the craft alcohol movement in London and had a heritage that other brands could only aspire to. This mixed with a loyal, local following pointed at a strong emotional cue – pride. 

London became the focus of the brand. Their consumers’ feeling of belonging and attachment is much stronger than their desire to drink a ‘new generation of gin’, and this is reflected by a brand that loves London as much as they do. 

Jensens effectively tapped into their consumer’s subconscious pride at being part of London’s very DNA.

Authentic authenticity

Defining the emotion a brand wants to trigger is based on a clear understanding of its values, and this is not always immediately obvious. 

Start-up beer company Hiver had to dig deep to uncover the emotional cues they might evoke in their consumer. Their independence separated them from mass-produced honey beers and pointed at a more bohemian personality, while their passion and attention to detail could also be leveraged emotionally. 

The idea of 'passionate independence' has spawned a brand built on those principles, from using 100% British ingredients and suppliers to supporting pollinator charities with 10% of profits, Hiver do things their own way and appeal to consumers that follow the same mantra. 

An emotion-led approach to branding is nothing new, yet many organisations still fail to explore an avenue that could lead to an increased market share. Success leaves clues and if it’s an approach that market leaders are embracing, why not take inspiration from that? 

Ticking all the logical boxes from a marketing perspective does not guarantee success, it’s time to get emotional.

Steve Beckworth Account Director Colt
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