Emotional Branding An enquiry into the importance of creating an emotional connection between the consumer and the brand. Charlotte Sutherland BA (Hons) Graphic Design Falmouth University February 2014
I confirm that, except where other sources are acknowledged, this Dissertation is my own unaided work, and that its length is 7,487 words. Signed………………………………… Dated………………………………….
Contents 1. Introduction
2. What is a brand?
3. What is emotional branding?
4. Brand connection with their audience
5. Normanâ€™s theory on cognitive processing
6. Emotional branding within brands
7. Brands that have been successful with emotional branding
7.3. John Lewis
8. Brands that have not been succesful with emotional branding
9. The psychology behind the brand
11. Image references
1. Introduction There was a time when all it took to be successful in business was to make a good quality product (Arons, 2011). Over the past decade literature has emphasised the importance of building strong brands as a strategy to be successful by making an emotional connection between the brand and the consumer (Morrison and Crane, 2007:410). We’re at a time where building a brand’s connection to its audience is more competitive then ever. Brands have to really compete to make their brand distinctive, as modern consumers no longer simply buy products; they want to buy the feelings and emotional experiences around what is being sold (Morrison and Crane, 2007:410). Thompson et al (2006) elucidates ‘mental states of readiness that arise from appraisals of events, or one’s own thoughts’ as opposed to a conventional benefit driven branding approach, emotional branding focuses on brand meanings that interact with consumer lives and inspire their passion. The best way to achieve this is by playing with the sensual and emotional levels of consumers, by building a longer lasting and deeper attachment to the brand.
Watzkawick et al (2011) suggests it is the emotional content that creates and communicates brand values through the development of strong brand relationships. Emotional advertising is the enterprise-wide pursuit of a sustainable connection, it makes consumers feel so valued and cared for that they will go out of their way to be loyal (Robinette et al, 2001). Morrison and Crane (2007) argues that most advertisers have not embraced the new emotional ontology, they have not acknowledged that to the consumer, emotional experience with the brand is equally important, if not more, as the service itself.
This paper will make an inquiry into the importance of creating an emotional connection with consumers, in order to create a strong brand. It endeavors to address how advertisers should understand how the emotions impact on the decisions made by consumers when decided to buy or use a branded product.
2. What is a brand? McLaughlin (2011) asks the question, ‘What does brand mean and how has the word’s application changed over time?’. McLaughlin elucidates that a ‘brand is simply the non generic name for a product that tells us the source of the product’.
Branding is a form of marketing; it is an effort to give a unique identity and create emotional associations with consumers (fig. 1). These associations reside in the memory of consumers and help them understand what the company stands for; how it potentially relates to them and how it differs from the rest of the market that offer similar services. Branding adds emotion and trust to products and services; this aims to provide clues that will simplify choice. It (fig. 1) Different stages of the business model.
will also help to build a relationship between brand and consumer, and ensure loyalty.
Branding originated from the act of cattle ranchers burning a mark into their cattle’s side as a way of them being able to identify their own herd (Sexton, 2007). Sexton (2007) continues to say that ‘the same principle applies to corporate branding, though the purpose is much more expansive’. Corporate branding came about in the industrial revolution; it was a process of trying to create distinction and individuality within manufacturers. So even when products are identical, some stand out more then others by the branding they have adopted (Klein, 2007).
In the simplest terms your ‘brand’ is what the consumer thinks of when he or she hears the brand name; it is only when customers begin to refer to it by something different, for example a nickname, you can begin to see a relationship developing (McLaughlin, 2011). This is when a brand name becomes a verb; Mike Hoban (2013) explains this, stating consumers FaceTime and Skype but don’t generally Facebook or YouTube, they Google it. Hoban continues to say that when a brand becomes a verb, advertisers tend to believe it is the ultimate compliment and it demonstrates a personal connection between the consumer and the brand. It is a well known expression to describe a digital manipulated image as being ‘Photoshopped’ (a product by Adobe) but it is not very often we use ‘Word’ (a product by Microsoft) as a verb to describe when we write a document.
As companies see this relationship develop and grow stronger they see the consumer is buying a brand rather than just a product. By the mid 1990’s this trend in consumer buying was beginning to be recognised and acknowledged in the anthropological, social and psychological sense. In the early 1990’s, advertisers began to see a change; just offering a good quality product was not enough to guarantee a successful brand. This meant advertisers had to connect with the public. Taher (2006) explained advertisers needed to make changes in response to people’s lives by ‘waking up to a new realm of branding, and acknowledge the shift from the old concept of brand awareness to the new concept of Emotional Branding’.
3. What is emotional Branding? According to Gobé (2001) emotional branding is about building relationships. It is about giving a brand and product a long-term value. Emotional branding touches customers on a personal level. Morrison and Crane (2007:410) define
emotional branding as the engagement with consumers on a deep, lasting, intimate, emotional connection with the brand, which creates a holistic experience that delivers emotional fulfillment, commitment and trust with the brand. Taher (2006) suggests in advertising, emotions are frequently associated with a brand and how this can register directly on a consumer’s brain, which may consequently recall or trigger a thought. He argues that it is important to have a clear understanding of the reasons behind a consumer’s motivation and buying habits. He continues to address the need to understand that emotions are not easy to define, as they do not operate separately.
Klein (2007), an Economic and Socialist theorist, explains that branding has changed since this era, and it is now more about the consumer. Brands are about maintaining a certain lifestyle, look or being a part of a certain culture. Klein (2007) continues to state when buying a pair of Nike trainers that; ‘you are not just buying a pair of trainers; you are buying into the whole Nike philosophy’. A brand’s aim is now to create an aspiration lifestyle based on consumer relationships, it is a promise to achieve and maintain an experience. Brands should have a single visual language, the look, style and way the product works should all fit together.
Gobé (2001) states emotional branding can be split into four key areas, relationship with the brand and product, sensorial experiences, imagination and the overall vision. Successful brands will keep in touch with their audience, showing them respect and responding to their emotional responses. Having a sensory experience will involve a multi sensorial experience; this will achieve memorable emotion and create loyalty. Imagination allows brands and consumers to break the unexpected; this creates a buzz and attention towards products and brands, and gets people talking. Vision allows brands
to constantly reinvent themselves when appropriate, keeping in touch with the forever moving audience and experiences available.
It is in our human nature to have emotions and react to things in a different way; we naturally project emotional values into the objects around us. These emotions play a huge role in how we consume; it is the main source that drives our decisions, triggers our actions and directs our beliefs. The best way to achieve an emotional connection is by playing with the sensual and emotional levels of the consumer, to build a longer lasting and deeper attachment to the brand. Taher (2006) believes if the advertiser taps into people’s emotions through emotional branding he can create ‘an emotional assurance’ in the mind of the consumer. Gobé (2001) reiterates this point, stating, emotional branding provides the means and methodology for connecting products to the consumer in an emotionally and profound way.
4. Brand connection with their audience This section will critically analyse and investigate how brands create a connection with their audience. It has been suggested that humans are inclined to anthropomorphise and can produce an emotional connection with anything. Our affective system reacts positively if our user experience is successful and the design works faultlessly, fulfilling expectations. Our positive experience with a piece of design can create an emotional attachment. When a piece of design fails to work properly our response can be negative, we can become angry and in some cases blame the product itself. Norman (2004:138) claims the principles for design pleasure is effective interaction between people and products; this can also be compared to the interaction between individuals.
In the advertising world of today it could be argued that if a brand is able to connect with its consumers on an emotional level, it is much more likely to achieve consumer loyalty. In this sense it would seem that a brand is a promise. Robinette, et al (2000) suggests that once a brandâ€™s identity has tapped into a human emotion they are rewarded with significant advantages, they argue that once a company has identified its message and personality on an emotional level a competitor will have difficulty doing the same without appearing less genuine. Once the brand has created this identity it needs to ensure it communicates with the customer at every opportunity. Hollis (2010) states that it is often through an emotional response to advertising that brings one to elicit tears or smiles, but in fact, every ad generates an emotional response; because everything we encounter in life generates an instinctive emotional response.
Brown (2005) stresses all thought is guided and shaped by emotion. Du Plessis (2008) elucidates that emotion plays a critical part in how we instinctively react to events. He explains that our monitoring process makes references to existing memories including feeling associated at the time. It is the emotional properties from those memories that determine how much attention we then give something. Du Plessis (2008) explains that if the memory is positive, it is likely we will be attracted to it; it is most likely we will be repelled if we feel a charge of negativity. Any advertising we see will make an impression on our brains. Du Plessis (2008) emphasises this is why advertising that creates a positive emotional response performs better than ones which do not. Appreciating this concept allows us to recognise the importance of understanding that exposure to a brand will trigger all the related feelings to create an emotional response that shapes a more considered reaction. We like to think of ourselves as rational human beings but there is no escaping that the way we think and act is triggered and shaped by our initial emotional response to events, and that
In the book ‘Lovemarks’, by Kevin Roberts the CEO of Saatchi and Saatchi, A.P Lafley (Cited in ‘Lovemarks’, 2004:9) explains two crucial moments of truth for any brand. The first is on the store shelf, and the choice of whether to buy one particular brand or another. The second moment of truth is at home, when the consumer is using the brand and whether they are delighted with the product or not. Brands that win these moments of truth again and again earn a special place in consumer’s hearts and minds; the strongest of these establish a lifelong bond with consumers.
5. Norman’s theory on cognitive processing The following section will discuss and analyse Norman’s theory on the cognitive design process, and how it helps create connections between the consumer and the brand. Donald. A Norman (2005) a professor in cognitive psychology researched positive emotional responses to products and published a book called ‘Emotional Design: why we love (or hate) everyday objects’ (2005). In his book he states there are three levels to the human brain and each level requires a different style of design, therefore not every product can satisfy everyone. Norman’s theory helps us to understand how users interact with design.
Visceral is the first level, meaning the natural, automatic pre-wired level. This is where we make our first impressions and gather an initial good or bad, safe or dangerous response, where we get an instinctive pleasure from smells, colours and textures. Norman explains these reactions cannot be ignored. Next is the behavioral level; this is where user experience is at its upmost importance. This is where the consumer assesses if the product or design meets his or her own needs efficiently. Finally we have the reflective level, which is completely
reliant on knowledge and learning. This is where our personal satisfaction and memories come in to account. When we can relate to a product or a piece of design that has a personal meaning. This level has the power to suppress any negative responses from the two previous levels and concentrates on the experience of that product or design as a whole experience.
Norman suggests objects can provoke strong emotions such as love, attachment and happiness. Norman gives an example of a piece of design showing these strong emotions by looking at ‘The New York Times’ review of the BMW’s Mini Copper (fig. 2):
(fig. 2) The design of the Mini Cooper making you feel strong emotions.
‘Whatever one may think of the Mini Cooper’s dynamic attributes… no new vehicle in recent memory has provoked more smiles’ the car is so much fun to look at and drive that the reviewer suggest you overlook its possible faults.’ (The New York Times, cited in Norman, 2005:7)
Mini Cooper works on more than just one of Normans Theories of cognitive processing to build a connection between the brand and the consumer. The initial look and feel of the car, how the car works and how it is to drive and finally how the product relates to memories you have in the car.
6. Emotional branding within brands This section will investigate how emotional branding can make a brand more successful by addressing different human emotions and creating that all important brand connection.
A BBC documentary called ‘Secrets of The Superbrands’ (2011) took to the streets of Kingston-upon-Thames and gave the well-known brand Heinz Baked Beans the ultimate taste test. Heinz baked beans sell 10 times more then the next
baked bean rival, hence, Alex Riley (2011), a presenter from the BBC, wanted to find out if Heinz beans really do taste the best or if the Heinz branding had the biggest impact. Human behaviorist Peter Hughes (2011) claims that brands can be so powerful they can actually affect our taste buds. The experiment consisted of two identical flasks, each containing one tin of Heinz Baked Beans. Each flask had a different label on, one bearing the Heinz Baked Beans label (fig. 3), and the other an own supermarket brand label (fig. 4, 4.1). Out of eleven people asked, only one person described the beans as tasting the same. The other ten were convinced they tasted different. Is this why Heinz sell ten times more beans then any other? (fig. 3) Heinz packaging design.
Brands such as Heinz work with our reflective level of our brain according to Norman’s theory as mentioned earlier. These brands have such a rich heritage; many of us have grown up with them and we associate deep memories with (fig. 4, 4.1) Own brand supermarket packaging designs.
them, they become more then just food and packaging. This level of emotional connection is only a dream for many companies. This effect is so sought after as once a brand becomes embedded this deeply in someone’s mind they tend to keep buying the product and a trust is built up with that particular brand.
Bullmore (2003) suggests there are two approaches to getting your audience to act in one-way or another, firstly the immediacy approach and secondly building a connection. If you want your audience to cut out a coupon, pick up a phone or go to the sales then being sharp and acting urgent is the best solution. This approach is non sympathetic and doesn’t add long-term value to a brand, the emotion given with this style of advertising comes and goes. If the purpose of an advert is to give a deeper message, perhaps change the audience’s perception or purpose of a brand then the advert will need to build a connection with the audience instead of just requesting an immediate reaction.
Bullmore (2003) explores two examples of these approaches to advertising. There are two ways to sell a Rolex, depending on whether it is real or not. The first example Bullmore gives is from a dodgy barrow on Oxford Street with consumers constantly passing by. You have 15 seconds to get their attention before it is too late. The price is low enough to tempt them to look, but high enough to make them hesitate. In this instance you do not have the time to consider the possible long-term damage to the brands values and the corporate reputation. The second example Bullmore gives is the way real Rolex is sold, in real life. A polite and assured approach is used which matches the grace and style of the product itself. Every conscious advertisement should make a small investment in the brands eternal worth. The first approach relates back to the immediacy approach known as the hard sale and the second approach builds a connection with the brand to the audience; this is known as the soft sale. It is building a connection between audience and brand that is hard to achieve.
7. Brands that have been successful with emotional branding This section will now explore three different companies that have been successful at creating a connection with their consumers. It endeavours to identify how the following three brands have used emotional branding in order to be successful in building a consumer connection.
7.1. Starbucks Starbucks have a strong mission statement: to inspire and nurture the human spirit – one person, one cup and one neighborhood at a time (Howard Schults, 2013). Scott Bedbury, Starbucks vice president of Marketing, forged ‘emotion ties’ through an article called the ‘Starbucks Experience’ in the New York Times in 1997 (Cited in ‘No Logo’, 2005). Bedbury explained, ‘with Starbucks, we see how coffee has woven itself into the fabric of people’s lives, and that’s our
opportunity for emotional leverage’.
Howard Schultz (2013), Starbucks Chairman, stated, ‘the best way to build a brand is one person at a time, and you need to pour your heart into it. Starbucks is an emotionally pleasant, friendly environment. It is very much a people place and it not just about the coffee, but also about the total experience’. Haig (2011:87) states that Starbucks is a postmodern brand. He claims it stimulates an experience of ‘commodity’ that may be as addictive as the caffeine in a cup of latte, it is all about creating an environment that is even better than the real thing.
The experience Haig (2011) talks about has been created not just through advertising but through the holistic experience, you can walk in to it. It has to appeal to all the senses, therefore when you enter a Starbucks you are greeted by the smell, the taste, the sight of a familiar logo and a warm cup in your hand, with background bustle and music. The Starbucks franchise is repeated in all the outlets across the world.
To help create a greater connection with their consumer’s Starbucks began writing the customers name on the side of each cup as apposed to the name of the drink. This was to create a friendly experience. The idea is to create a first name basis and make the consumer feel more welcome, ‘Hello, we’re Starbucks; nice to meet you’ (fig. 5). It could be argued by doing this, Starbucks (fig. 5) Starbucks friendly, welcoming approach, ‘Hello, We’re Starbucks,: nice to meet you’.
made a connection with their customers that made them feel so valued and cared for they would return and go out of their way to be loyal.
Starbucks did not want the consumer experience to stop when they walked out. To increase consumer loyalty, Starbucks released a limited edition metal card
after collaborating with glit.com (News.starbucks.com, ca. 2013). Each card is a hand assembled rose coloured metal with a laser-etched design featuring the Starbucks traditional logo and lettering (fig. 6). These cards were intended to extend the positive emotional attachment associated with the company. The Cardholders received extra-added features such as free birthday treats and 15% off at starbucksstore.com. Consumers felt compelled to buy such items to feel an aspect of exclusivity and conspicuous consumption; these people have connected with the brand on a higher level than just a simple business transaction. The company made a deliberate decision to release a fewer (fig. 6) Limited edition Starbucks card.
number of cards the second time round, this makes the consumers who are lucky enough to get their hands on one feel special and part of an even more exclusive group within their favourite coffee brand. Great companies that create unique value for their customers consistently have a culture that really values consumers and will henceforth attract premium prices. Steven Addis, (2013) a brand consultant states if something is hard to get hold of, it takes on irrational value: by making it even harder to get, the irrationality goes up.
7.2. Apple Apple manages to reach emotional human feelings that other technology brands cannot. Apple’s successful emotional branding efforts that have turned the Apple brand into one of the most powerful relationship brands in the world.
“If Apple were a person I would describe them as young, hip and trendy.” (The Secret of Superbrands, Technology, 2011).
Apple is a technological brand that is unique in comparison to others; its designs are seen as icons. Apple have played on people’s emotions by producing a product that is not only aesthetically pleasing but also engages consumers
as when they see an Apple product, for example iMac or iPad, they want to touch it (Haig 2011:168). Haig reports that CEO Steve Jobs described iMacs as lustrous he stated ‘they make you want to like them’ due to their curvaceous candy colour (2011:169), (fig. 7). Apple is one successful brand that genuinely inspires love. Computers are essential to the way we live today and can be seen as a fundamental part of people’s lives. Apple products, such as the iMac (fig. 7) Steve Jobs’ coloured iMacs.
and iPad are well-articulated example of Norman’s theory of the cognitive processing, relating to the visceral and reflective level of our brain.
Apple like to surround themselves with an air of mystery. The opening of a new Apple store is said to be similar to that of a religious ceremony (Riley, 2011). A store in London’s Covent Garden opened in 2010. At first the store was covered in a red curtain and after time, half an Apple logo was revealed (fig. 8), the time, accurate location and date is revealed of a new store approximately one week before opening according to an Apple enthusiast (2011). People came from all over the world and camped outside over night (fig. 9) just to witness the store opening or the first time. It is clear that Apple have a huge fan base and consumers who are devoted to their brand (fig. 10), (Riley, The Secret of Superbrands, Technology, 2011).
Haig (2011:172) argues that Apple inspire strong emotions because the brand defines the identity to its customers. He concludes that Apple could be considered a ‘cult brand’. Regas (2002) defines a cult brand as one that dares (fig. 8, 9, 10) The opening of the Apple store in Covent Gardens, London 2010.
to be different and take risks. Looking at the Success of Apple the risks paid dividends; Apple has some of the most loyal customers in today’s society.
7.3. John Lewis In 2012 Katie Manson conducted a study on the ethics and emotion of the
retail store John Lewis. John Lewis was voted Britain’s favourite retail store of 2010 and 2011 (Manson, 2012). John Lewis is a heart-warming retail store that is there to help fill memorable life events. The brand has been built up over the years on a basis of trust and honesty. The store’s advertising over the past few years have been successful in appealing to consumer’s emotions, which deepens the strength of their connection to the brand.
The John Lewis Christmas adverts are becoming an anticipated part of the Christmas season. In 2009 the store began to face a financial climate change, similar to the rest of the UK (Manson, 2012). This is when the company changed the way the audience perceives the store and introduced emotional advertising. Using a cinematic style of advertising, the company began to capture attention and tell a story about the brand instead of over promoting themselves to seem better then their competitors (Manson, 2012). The advert in 2011, with the little boy who couldn’t wait to give his present to his parents had such a heart warming and endearing effect some schools began to show the advert during assembly to demonstrate the importance of giving, as well as receiving at a time such as Christmas (fig. 11, 12, 13), (Manson, 2012).
John Lewis’s advertising tactic at Christmas time relates to the in-store (fig. 11, 12, 13) Screenshots from John Lewis’ christmas advert for 2011.
experience of being calm, quiet and reflective. This is designed to make consumers think a little bit more about Christmas and what great gifting is all about. The overall strategy for John Lewis at Christmas time is thoughtful gifting. For them, it is not the thought that counts: it is for people who want to put more thought into the gift (Inglis, 2013).
After this emotional tactic was so successful the company decided to go back to their routes from 1925 where the founder John Spendan Lewis was
committed to ‘Never Knowingly Undersold’. The advert in 2010 ‘Always a woman’ demonstrated how the company showed a consistent appearance within a woman’s life (fig. 14, 15). David Golding is a founding partner of Adam and Eve advertising agency, who work with John Lewis to create their campaigns. Golding (2013) stated the advert, ‘Always a woman’ proposed to make consumers wish they had led a life like the one within the advert, it is said that virtually every journalists angle on the advert was ‘that’s the life I wish for my children’, the advert was so emotionally stimulating, and therefore so (fig. 14, 15) Screenshot from John Lewis’s advert ‘Always a Woman’, 2010.
Music had a powerful cultural impact and soon emerged as a strong supporting part of John Lewis’s advertisement, when in 2009 ‘Guns and Roses’, ‘Sweet Child O’ mine’ reached top of the charts. The music within their advertising enhanced the emotional connection that consumers already felt towards their brand and it soon became a crucial part of their strategy. The use of music within the advertisement was an unexpected success and John Lewis were quick to realise the power of having the chosen song in the charts at Christmas time. Every time that the song was heard, it aroused the emotion consumers had felt when watching the advertisement and meant that the correlation between brand and song was fully cemented (Golding, 2013).
8. Brands that have not been successful with emotional The section above looked at the importance of emotional branding in creating consumer loyalty and therefore success, but what happens when that loyalty is influenced or damaged? This enquiry into the importance of emotional branding will now analyse two brands within this category and investigate where they went wrong.
8.1. Tropicana When companies find their sales figures falling many will feel they need to evolve or change their image to convince consumers that their product is still worthwhile. However, rebranding must be done with care and consideration to ensure they do not lose their existing loyal customers. According to Haig (2011) if companies get the rebrand wrong it could be very damaging.
In 2009 the well-known orange juice drink Tropicana, owned by Pepsi, had a rebrand to bring attention back to its product and have a fresh new look. Their intention had been to simplify the packaging design, however by doing this, consumers complained the new packaging was too bland and boring; it made the product look like an own brand supermarket product (fig. 16). This resulted in their loyal customers becoming angry and confused, so as a result their sales suffered greatly (Elliott, 2009). Campbell, (2009) the president of the company, (fig. 16) Tropicana packaging, before and after the rebrand.
was quoted saying ‘we underestimated the deep emotional bond customers had with the original look’. It was later identified that the research methods used during the rebranding of the design had failed to accurately measure the emotion consumers’ had unconsciously associated with the original brand. Haig (2011:122) argues ‘that it is not that customers do not like change, they don’t like the mixed messages’. Quelch and Joez (2009) support Haig stating the importance of consistency and reinforcing connection with your most loyal consumers emotional connection with a brand. They advocate that change in your branding may attract new consumers in the short term but it can result in your loyal consumers feeling isolated and confused.
8.2. Burberry Thomas Burberry created the first Burberry shop over 150 years ago, specialising in outdoor wear. The trench coat was the first iconic piece, which
defined the brand’s classic look.
Burberry’s intentions were to create an exclusive, up market global brand, as Andrea Cockram (2005), a verdict of research, states ‘it really tapped into a sense of the early years of the millennia’, however, the brand soon became a victim of its own success. In the late 1990’s, Burberry became associated with label-conscious thug like football hooligans. ‘It was associated with people (fig. 17) Burberry getting a bad name for itself. ‘Chavs’ were seen wearing the famous check including Daniella Westbrook who was also associated with drug use.
who did bad stuff, who went wild on the terraces,’ Peter York claims (2005). He continues to suggest ‘quite a lot of people thought that Burberry would be worn by the person who mugged them.’ The brand soon became tacky and atrocious and if seen wearing it, you were labeled as a ‘chav’ (fig. 17). Chavs made Burberry become a laughing stock to the fashion industry. Burberry became unassociated with everything it represented and the brand became dormant and lifeless; it had completely lost its British heritage.
In 1997 Burberry employed a New York fashion designer to help turn their fortune around. Rosemary Bravo changed the way Burberry is perceived by the public and its consumers. By taking Kate Moss, who at the time was known as the ‘catwalk queen’, along with Mario Testino, a famous fashion photographer she created a new face for Burberry, and brought a new generation, younger, (fig. 18) Burberry rebrand by Rosemary Bravo, and Mario Tistino.
sexier feeling to the brand (fig. 18). Bravo again focused on the trench coat to bring Burberry back to its heritage she claims is not the trench coat that makes it so Burberry, its the way trench coat is tied (Mills, 2000).
In 2000 the reinvention of Burberry was complete. It is now considered a desired brand again. Britain went Burberry crazy, and sales had doubled. A-list celebrities were seen wearing it and Burberry was on everyone’s magazine and newspaper cover. Burberry became a symbol of success. As Bravo suggests
‘The check and plaid is recognised as a symbol like the Nike swoosh, it is an amazing icon’.
9. The psychology behind the brand The following section is going to research and question whether companies who use emotional branding are as honest and transparent as consumers would like to believe they are.
“Aren’t companies meant to be honest and transparent isn’t this supposed to be ‘the thing’ right now?” (Spurlock: cited in Lindstrom, 2011).
Advertising companies are not innocent when it comes to using underhanded tricks and ploys to help ensure we part with our money. Frequently they use peer pressure to sell their brands, paying celebrities huge sums of money to endorse their products. L’Oréal, for example, often uses a-list celebrities to promote their products. The face of L’Oréal has seen the likes of Scarlett Johansson (fig. (fig. 19) Scarlett Johansson promoting L’Oréal.
19), Penelope Cruz and Ben Affleck (The Guardian, 2006). This tactic makes consumers look up and aspire to look and feel like the celebrities using the product. Lindstrom (2011:1) claims that they use a ‘full range of psychological tricks’ arguing that companies that use shrewd advertisers will use any possible means to pry on our most deeply rooted fears, dreams and desires all in the cause of persuading us to buy their brands or products and increase their profit making in the process.
Gobé (2001) states that today advertising operates within a completely different set of values in comparison to 5 years ago. Companies now use advertisers to manipulate people’s minds, persuading them to buy. They have new technologies and tools; they can obtain current research in the fields of consumer behaviour,
cognitive psychology and neuroscience to understand how more than ever before we, the consumer, tick (Lindstrom, 2011). Without even noticing, companies are able to keep tabs on us to follow our every purchase, loyalty cards and credit cards may seem like a good idea or a reward from a company, however every time we use such cards to buy a product it creates a unique psychological profile on the individual.
Companies refer to this information as ‘knowledge discovery’ (Lindstrom, 2011:97) they are able to use it to track and analyse behaviour and buying patterns which in turn allow them to manipulate us into buying more of their products. Companies such as Google and Facebook can collect this information on us and then sell it on to other interested parties. Brands do not give you loyalty cards because you are a privileged customer it is a benefit to their own establishment. Lindstrom (2011:206) suggests there is no end to what this data can tell companies about the consumer, they can tell if you are eligible to buy new products, consequently they are likely to target you with coupons in the future for newly rolled out products.
When social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter first set up, adverts looked a lot like searches, and campaigns were released in the same way. It hasn’t been until recent years that developers have been able to aim particular adverts at the appropriate people. By ‘liking’ certain pages on Facebook and filling in certain details of your personal information they can dictate what adverts and campaigns reach you whilst you are online. This allows brands to promote to their chosen target audience; social network sites offer a plethora of ways to choose that target audience. Paul Turner (2013) states the likes of Facebook and Twitter are migrating from social marketing solutions to fullscale digital advertising solutions.
Morrison et al (2007) argues that emotion plays an important role in cognition, action and social behaviour and there are two schools of thought on this theory. Morrison et al (2007:411) explains that one set of theorists argue that emotion is the result of cognitive responses to a stimuli which is deep in a persons history and cognitive mind set, consequently there must be a connection between the product and the consumer which is meaningful for them to purchase. The other theorist argues that emotion is purely psychological and is a response to a stimulus; therefore just exposure to a product can create a liking for it. If the second theory is correct is it possible that emotional branding can take advantage by influencing the consumer through emotional branding.
The advertising industry is a prominent and powerful industry, but can they use emotional branding to influence consumers thoughts and feelings to buy particular products and influence their lives? Careful use of psychology allows advertisers to create adverts that touch their minds, their senses and their feelings. Call et al (2010:16) argues we are not buying the product but we are persuaded to buy the feeling of belonging to some social or cultural group, so in reality are we buying something we already have?
Advertising plays with emotions like fear, insecurity and the universal need for acceptance. This makes emotions like these incredibly easy to manipulate. Companies are very good and quick to prey on public panic over the latest health scare. Fear according to Lindstrom (2011:51) is a psychological tool companies are using to emotionally persuade us to buy their products. Advertisers are able to take fear and prey on it in the deepest subconscious level. In his book Lindstrom gives an example from 2009 when in the US there was an epidemic of SARS (Severe acute respiratory syndrome), in his example we can see how companies saw a â€˜golden eggâ€™ and were quick to gain concern and began using
emotional advertising for hand gel as a preventative way of spreading germs. In reality the virus is spread by droplets in the air from sneezing or coughing and cannot be wholly prevented by the use of anti bacterial hand gels. The brands have turned this product into an essential by making us believe that using the product is the only way to ensure we starve off and stop the spread of disease. Consequently this is now a multi million pound-selling product. The appeal of hand sanitiser grew to become more then just about liking hygiene; it became a way of advertising your own cleanliness. Dr Val Curtis, (2012) director of the Hygiene Centre at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, suggests that ‘cleanliness and godliness do go together. People start to feel ashamed of not having clean hands, because the message is that you are not protecting others from your germs.’ Dr Val Curtis (2012) continues to propose ‘hand gel is desirable, but it’s not absolutely essential’.
Nostalgia is an area advertisers are not afraid to take advantage of when it comes to emotional branding. This is a powerful psychological persuader, advertisers are aware that recalls from our past are often more pleasurable in our memories than they actually were at the time. Lindstrom (2011:130) emphasises that clever companies know that the older we get the more intense these longings for the past are. Hipperson (2011) explains when a brand reaches iconic status it transcends beyond a product and forms a part of popular culture. By achieving this status it becomes embedded in our consciousness, because these products forge a link and stay with us influencing our purchasing as there is an emotional link. We can see recently how advertisers are using the power of nostalgia to invest in retro advertising for a much-needed reinvigoration. Hipperson (2011) states that nostalgic advertising is a trend that often evolves in unstable times, when consumers look back longingly to the past. Lindstrom (2011:99) argues it is not only memories that are exploited. Advertisers have
many ways to tap into our emotions and primal human desires and as a consequence are making a whole lot of money. Call et al (2010:3) believes that emotional branding has the power to make you buy things you do not need; they argue that advertisers are able to manipulate you. Is an expensive item really that much better? Advertisers use psychological pricing, creative advertising and peer pressure to manipulate us into to paying a higher price. We are being manipulated with emotional branding when we see products being advertised by the rich, famous, beautiful or talented people, these ploys play on our need to enhance our need for social belonging, this refers back to the example given by L’Oréal in the pervious section. Research has shown something that advertisers have long been instinctively aware of: human’s want, what other human’s want (Lindstrom 2011:104).
Peer pressure and ‘keeping up with the Jones’ is another huge emotional area that advertisers can exploit. It has been argued that this is an area where advertisers are taking advantage; they use persuasive powers in ways we may not even have imagined. Lindstrom (2011:108) suggests that companies have become very skilled at planting seeds of social epidemics and then sitting back to watch them grow. Trying to follow a certain social status can lead people to make irrational economical decisions; this, in turn is likely to make people spend more. Often the products we are more likely to want are classed as luxury branded products. When branding advertisers use emotions that produce a sense of power, elegance and class, the price is rarely advertised, as they do not want to deter people from purchasing the product. Weatherford (2011:1) states the desire to use these products and items to display status has not changed over the years. These products communicate wealth and social status to the outside world. When we look at the things we buy we usually consider what other people may think. Weatherford explains that if consumers feel their image is
not sufficient they will look for product extensions to attach to themselves, which compensate for areas they feel are insufficient. Many of these luxury products appeal to a market which could be described as a disadvantaged social group, as a way to escape their living conditions both physically and psychologically (Weatherford, 2011:35). Advertisers do not take social responsibility for the emotion and desire the product produces, when these people spend more than their financial status allows, they often need to resort to taking out a payday or credit card loan as they fall into debt where companies frequently charge extremely high interest rates.
Today we are seeing a new client base for advertisers to target, which may bring up ethical questions, for example, should children be used in this new emotional branding concept we see today? Advertisers recognise that brand loyalties and consumer habits formed when children are young and vulnerable and will be carried through to adulthood (Beder, 1998:101). Beder highlights the way the advertisers are targeting children. She questions whether the ability of children so young are able to understand advertising and its intent and not be deceived and manipulated by it (Beder, 1998:101). Research has shown that if children start using a brand at a young age there is a 92% chance they will continue using that product in later life (Lindstrom, 2011:23). Beder (1998:102) believes another reason that advertisers use children is because of the amount of money they spend themselves, the influence they have on their parents spending and because of the money they will spend when they grow up. Starbucks are beginning to target child with a frothy milky drink called a ‘Babyccino’ often topped with chocolate powder or sprinkles. Originated in the US Starbucks seem to have realised the simple fact that ‘happy kids means happy parents’ who stay longer and therefore spend more (Thebabywebsite. com ca. 2014). Even Apple have begun to use children to aid its sales through
the development of their baby friendly apps. According to an article in the New York Times, Hilary Stout (2010) states how the iPhone ‘has become the most effective tool in human history to mollify a fussy toddler’.
10. Conclusion Inspiration for this dissertation came from the desire to investigate the importance of creating an emotional connection with consumers, in order to create a strong brand. The research strategy included a thorough literature search that incorporated possible factors that help explain emotional branding and address the emotional impact consumers make when deciding to use or buy a branded product, and how important it is for advertisers to understand this. It has shown that today, it is essential that understanding peoples emotional needs and desires are more important than ever to ensure success.
McEwen (2004) states that ‘suddenly it seems that the new market millennium is all about emotions and whatever has sparked this resurgence of interest is apparently contagious. Purchases are more likely to increase and be repeated when emotions are involved. If a consumer has a strong connection to a particular brand they are more likely to return to the brand and keep purchasing from them. People whom engage with their favourite brands are genuinely happier (Gensler, ca. 2013). Brand connections ultimately help to satisfy the inherent human desire to be a part of something and feel like they belong. This is a key point pushed by Klein (2007) in chapter three ‘What is emotional branding?’ who says; when you purchase Nike trainers ‘you are not just buying a pair of trainers; you are buying into the whole Nike philosophy’.
During my research I looked at Norman’s theory of cognitive design and applied this theory throughout my investigation to analytically assess my
findings. Norman clearly states that different levels of the human brain need different levels of design to enable the consumer to be completely satisfied. The taste test experiment, undertaken by Riley, (2011) was a clear example of how Normanâ€™s theory is proven. Consumers related to the Heinz baked beans label opposed to the supermarkets own brand label. This example clearly shows that the Heinz brand relates to consumers on a personal level. Many of us have grown up recognising Heinz as a success. Consumersâ€™ associate deep memories with their products. The brand has a rich heritage and many of us therefore really connect. We cannot imagine life without these brands. This research backs up Du Plessis (2008) theory when he states that advertising works by establishing feelings. associations and memories in relation to a brand. These associations come to mind when we think about a brand, especially when we are going to purchase.
However, this example shows how brands can cause detriment to consumers. The brand market has become vastly competitive and advertisers are clearly aware of this. They are constantly competing against each other to win consumers over and buy into their brand, and their own philosophy. However important it is for brands to create a strong bond with the consumer they also need to recognise the investments people are willing to make and repay the favour by maintaining their promise and quality to the consumer.
The brand engagement survey (2013) suggests that people choose brands based on their own values as a person, and what they feel to be important to them. Consumers who have high emotion responses to brands tend to buy with ambition, courage and love in the forefront of their mind. Alternatively, consumers who have low emotional responses to brand tend to buy with capability, logic and responsibility at the forefront of their minds. Consumers
without emotional connections focus on the product attributes and practical functionality. These values are important but they are not strong enough to build a long lasting relationship between the consumer and the brand. These consumers are more likely to switch to an alternative brand if they find one that works better or is cheaper.
To conclude, a brand does not exist without people. Companies can create new services, products, names, logos; but it is consumers who give these creations life and longevity by making them a part of their own lives (Gensler, ca. 2013). Like a relationship between two people, it takes effort to create an emotional connection that lasts.
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Published on Apr 15, 2014