Branding your business is no longer limited to slapping your logo on some pens and mouse pads and handing them out at the latest convention. Forward thinking companies are turning to emotional branding to get their message across and to strengthen their relationships with customers.

By using emotional branding in your marketing efforts you will be creating messages that appeal directly to your audience’s desires, needs and aspirations. When your customers make this kind of connection with your company they will be far less likely to defect to your competitors and in some cases become evangelists for your brand.

What is your brand image?

The starting point to any emotional branding campaign is to determine the emotional identity of your brand. Are you hip and cool, like Apple? Do your products offer your customers freedom, like Harley Davidson? Are your products considered status symbols, like Ferrari?

It is important to know that there is no wrong answer. Your company product or service has a unique selling point. There is a need that your products fulfil for your customers. This could be anything from safety, trust, control, love, desire, or fear.

Build your message around your brand image.

Once you have decided on what your brand image is going to be it is now time to create your brand message. Each message, no matter what marketing channel you choose, should reinforce your brand image.

Take Apple, for example (and isn't a coincidence if all use Apple like example...). Every single one of their advertisements show young, hip creative types using Apple products to create art and music, to enjoy life with their friends and family, to explore the world. The company has used emotional branding to forge such a strong connection with their customers that they will line up for days outside stores just to be one of the first to get their hands and the latest Apple device.

Every one of their advertisements stays on message; “Buy our products and you will be cool.” This is how you should approach your message,, simply finish this sentence; “Buy our products and you will…” How will your customers feel after buying your product? Focusing on this will make creating your emotional branding message much easier.

Why emotional branding works.

Most consumers wouldn't admit that they could be emotionally connected to an brand. We like to believe that we are all rational human beings and make the best choices we can. In reality human beings make decisions based on emotion all the time. Once those emotional decision have been made they then attempt to justify those decisions with logic.

Cognitive scientist, Donald Norman, explains it this way, “Everything we do, everything we think is ringed with emotion, much of it subconscious. In turn, our emotions change the way we think…” In his book, Emotional Design: Why We Love (Or Hate) Everyday Things, he goes on to explain how our emotions guide our behavior and decision making, steering us towards the good and away from the bad.

What are you feeling?

Because of this it would be wise of all marketers to test their messages by asking one simple question, “How does this make you feel?” Each ad, tagline and image should be chosen based on the emotional reaction that is receives consumers. Every part of an advertisement, no matter how small, needs to be congruent with the emotional message being sent.

Emotional branding is less of a science than it's an art but smart marketers can consistently deliver messages that touch consumers deeply and build strong brand loyalty.