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Branding for Emotions

Last weekend, I found myself mall-hopping while running errands. Amidst the craziness of it all (toddler + grocery bags + phone calls + mental to do lists), I realised that the sight of beautiful flowers that peppered the malls' various boutiques kept me calm. There is something about flowers that brightens up the most challenging of days and bring with it a breath of fresh air. 

When I finally got some time to unwind and reflect on the day's experiences, I was intrigued by my almost instinctual preference for flowers from florists that displayed a few beautifully curated bouquets (Florist A) in contrast to a buffet-like set-up (Florist B).

“... a brand with an emotional difference can potentially command a premium forever.”
— Don Cowley, Understanding Brands

It got me thinking about a recent report by Forrester that describes how "half of the brand energy" comes from an emotional activation, which can be irrational. Both florists had similar beautiful flowers to sell. However, the florist that got me emotionally activated, was one that accurately understood customer's desires for elegance and sophistication. More than just selling a product (i.e. flowers), Florist A offered an experience with captivating design.

While my experience had to do with flowers, the same could be applied to any other product or service appealing to customer emotions. What remains crucial, is unearthing the way a product connects to the customer—which emotions are at play and how can those emotions be best served?

In his book, Understanding Brands, Don Cowley says: "A brand with a price advantage can simply be undercut. A brand with a performance advantage can be outflanked by technological development. But a brand with an emotional difference can potentially command a premium forever."

As a strategic branding consultancy, Rehla Design is acutely aware of how people make decisions, which is why every branding project we undertake incorporates analysing customer needs. A tool we often use is empathy mapping, enabling us to put ourselves in the customers' shoes and visually understand how they feel, think and act. This feeds into the visuals and communications we create for brands.

At its core, emotional branding is about comfort, reassurance and solutions to unmet needs and desires. Undoubtedly, it is a time-intensive process—to dig deep, get messy and be thrown into seemingly murky waters—but the payout is undeniable: a brand that is designed to meet exactly what the customer wants, even when the customer is not thinking.