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Emotional Marketing

How Emotion is Used in Advertising

Photograph taken by  @sksquared  for  @underarmourcanada

Photograph taken by @sksquared for @underarmourcanada


Emotional Marketing is messaging that builds the customer’s ego. It makes them feel smarter, bolder, more sophisticated, or any other emotion that is fundamental to their self-esteem. 

By making them feel better about themselves, the brand transcends just being a product and becomes a friend. This is what gives brands that special something that builds life-long attachment. Brands who do this show that they share their customers’ values and priorities. It gives consumers the opportunity to name-drop the brand to say something important about themselves. 

The brand essentially “gets them,” and they get the brand.


Whole Foods is a great example of a brand that leverages emotional marketing. Whole Food has created a cult-like experience as customers feel like they’re part of something bigger. They have effectively utilized the ‘state of needing’ which is an emotional state that causes target customers to become attached to the specific idea or outcome that our product infers. Since consumers tend to choose brands based on emotions rather than logic, the more emotional intelligence a brand has, the better they will do with conversions and ROI. 


Companies that highlight word-of-mouth recommendations from clients as part of their marketing strategy, are saying, “Trust us, because many others do.” In turn, our customers’ gut-level emotional response says, “If others trust them, I should, too.” Social proof can take many forms: testimonials, customer reviews, company logos, or real customer stories, etc.

When it comes to Emotional Marketing, there are 5 approaches:

1. Inspirational
2. Aspirational
3. Love
4. Milestones
5. Local

1. Inspirational: When people are inspired, they often think or act differently. They’re swayed by seeing a good deed in action.

Examples: Gatorade and Nike have mastered the inspirational approach, using athletes like Serena Williams and Michael Jordan as brand ambassadors who inspire audiences not just with their looks or fame but with their accomplishments, talents and perseverance.


2. Aspirational: Aspirational campaigns create a brand presence that taps into an audience’s dreams, their desire to reach a goal, lifestyle, or experience they long for.

Example: Hermes conveys the image that its products are for those who are elegant, worldly and appreciate fine craftsmanship. Even if you’ve never traveled the world, owning an Hermes product shows you appreciate worldliness in a way others may not.

3. Expressing Love: A marketing strategy focused on appealing to consumers' raw and most personal emotions can change a nameless and faceless business into a brand that audiences can relate to and care about.

Examples: ADT’s “Always There” campaign promises to protect your home and help your family feel safe. Lysol’s new “Protect Like a Mother” campaign likens mothers to wild animals who instinctively protect their young from anything -- even germs.


4. Milestone Connection: creating a story about a brand’s presence in the lives of those experiencing a milestone can be very effective. Milestones can be an opportunity to strengthen the brand’s relationship with customers.

Examples: New York Life features a child’s first steps and assures you that it will be there for “all of life’s ups and downs.” Huggies goes into the delivery room in its "Baby’s First Hug" campaign to remind new moms that hugs strengthen babies’ immune systems. 


5. The local angle: A brand can gain fans by connecting to people’s pride and passion for where they live. Brands with a trendy “buy local” strategy tailor their stories and platforms to the cities in which they do business. 

Example: National auto brands, retailers and banks tie into their local markets through campaigns featuring famous local attractions, local schools and colleges, and hometown sports teams. Location-specific marketing is also a particularly valuable approach for young, smaller businesses or franchises that may have smaller budgets, but can trade on their local presence and connection to the community. 

In all, the key to creating a successful emotional marketing campaign is authenticity. If you truly understand the promise your brand is making to its audience and speak from the heart, your brand will connect at a whole new level and transform customers into friends.

Want to learn more on how emotional marketing could amplify your social growth strategy? Feel free to email