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Why Emotional Marketing does not increase Sales of your Brand

I agree the title is provocative.

And it is supposed to, even if you probably ask yourself: “Wait a minute, he can’t be serious? Everyone else tells me emotional marketing is the way to go!”

But I am serious. Let me tell you why.



Emotions in General


Emotions in Brand Strategy


Emotions in Advertising


Emotions in General

Do you know how many human emotions there are?

According to Plutchik’s wheel of emotions, there are only 32 primary human emotions.

Let’s see how marketers use them to promote their brand.

What market conditions have led to emotional marketing?

Exchangeability is a growing challenge of modern brand management.

Common difficulties include:

  • Brands are becoming more and more similar to each other
  • Brand communication is hard to assign to a specific brand
  • Consumers can hardly distinguish brands from one another.

Because of their equal quality, it’s a widespread understanding that brands can only be differentiated and sold through emotions.

Many brands leave the level of differentiating their offering through their product features and move on to the abstract level of emotions.

They try to do so with emotional marketing.

What is Emotional Marketing?

Emotional Marketing is an attempt to link a brand with specific emotions to which customers should respond particularly well.

The goal is to create a bond between the consumers and a brand to increase sales.

In other words, emotional marketing pursues the goal to awake feelings and emotions in people that are expected to have a positive effect on the sales of a product or service.

Typically, emotional marketing taps into a singular emotion, like joy, love, trust, or fear, to make consumers notice, remember, share, and ultimately buy a brand.

But there is a catch:

Why does Emotional Marketing not work?

Emotional Marketing does not work because it tries to reverse human reasoning:

  • Customers experience a product or service, have positive or negative feelings about that experience, which affect future purchase decisions.
  • Emotional marketing, on the other hand, tries to define emotions, which a product, a service, or an advertisement should trigger.

It becomes evident that these predefined emotions do not necessarily relate to the actual offering of a brand.

Besides, to increase sales of a brand, only positive emotions make sense, and there is only a handful of them: joy, happiness, security, love, that’s pretty much it.

Emotional marketing also offers low value to a brand.

While it claims to increase differentiation, emotional marketing increases interchangeability.

It limits the infinite potential of a brand to differentiate through the features of their products and services down to a handful of generic emotions.

However, even the strongest emotions of consumers are always based on the way they benefit from the features of a brand.

That’s why emotional marketing does not work.


Emotions in Brand Strategy

Instead of showing you every room down to the last detail, a real-estate agent could also try to sell you a house by saying: “It’s a cool house, buy it.”

Of course, that wouldn’t work on you.

That’s because any emotions that might convince you to buy the house are solely based on the feelings you have about the details of the house.

What’s Emotional Branding about?

Brand managers define abstract emotions and emotional worlds that a brand should trigger.

Agencies believe they have to tell highly emotional stories to create positive feelings and thus sympathies with the brand.

I’m sure you’ve heard statements like “our brand has to be more emotional” before.

Brands should be:

  • loud,
  • entertaining or even
  • funny.

Regardless if it’s a large corporate brand or a small business brand: every brand should try to differentiate emotionally.

But do emotions turn your product into a Sales Magnet?

The answer is clearly no!

Let me show you why:

How do emotions arise?

Emotions are the result of experiences.

Customers buy a brand and have specific experiences.

These experiences are based on tangible utilities of a brand.

Utilities of a brand make the everyday life of the customer easier – or even improve it.

In a second step, the experiences with the utilities of a brand trigger emotions.

Emotions are therefore a consequence of utilities (not a cause).

Here’s how it works:

  1. At first, we experience the utilities of a brand.
  2. Secondly, emotions arise from experiences.

In other words:

  1. Tangible utilities are the cause.
  2. Abstract emotions are the effect.

See what I mean? Emotions are not the cause, but only the outcome.

The following example should visualize how it works:

Example: Lamborghini

Carmaker Lamborghini is building expensive sports cars.

These cars evoke emotions in many people, like joy, amazement, or desire.

Now, where do these emotions come from? Do they arise from Lamborghini’s advertising?

No. They arise from the product itself. People feel:

  • Joy, because it’s fun to drive a Lamborghini.
  • Amazement, because of the cars’ unique appearance.
  • Desire, because most people want to own a Lamborghini, but only a few can afford one.

It’s the product that triggers emotions which are so strong, that they make consumers buy products.

Not the other way around.

How do you manage emotions?

For you, as the person in charge of managing your brand, emotions are out of reach.

They arise as consumers form a Brand Image. And as you probably know, you can’t manage Brand Image actively.

You can only manage your brand, not what consumers think about it.

As soon as a brand focuses on emotions, it automatically turns away from its utilities.

Brands cannot be managed by effects, but only by causes.

The utilities of a brand, which are the cause of emotions, form the foundation of success-oriented brand management.

How to use Emotions in Brand Strategy

In many companies, every business unit is assessed and evaluated according to hard factsexcept for brand management and advertising.

It’s a common approach of brand strategists and marketers to integrate soft facts into the brand identity.

Quite often, these emotions of soft facts have little to do with the actual offer of a company.

These matters refer to topics of the outside world so that they create abstract contexts which orientate towards trends or general characteristics of the respective product category.

This makes them neither sustainable nor suitable for differentiating a brand from the competition.


Emotions in Advertising

Integrating emotions and humor in your advertising is quite possible, but you should take some considerations into account.

Keep in mind that you don’t advertise to entertain, but to sell your brand.

The product itself must evoke the corresponding emotion, not advertising alone.

Where did Emotional Advertising come from?

Many CEO’s, marketing departments, and other employees have the opinion that their product itself is unimportant and has nothing special to offer.

They believe that it wouldn’t be any different than the products of their competitors.

That’s where advertisers start by telling companies that because the product hardly differs from the competition at all, they need to advertise emotionally.

They make brands believe that communicating particular emotions (which they scientifically identified in market research) would create positive feelings of consumers for the brand, which will also increase their sales.

The chance of a possible solution makes it even easier for businesses to accept exchangeable motifs, phrases, and ads.

However, is most cases these contents ignore basic principles of communication and don’t relate to the brand at all.

Emotional advertising is also the cause of increasing alienation between businesses and advertisers.

How does emotional advertising work?

The goal of emotional advertising is differentiation on an emotional level – with feelings or even with whole worlds of emotions.

Advertisers use a selection of images, words, and sounds, which are supposed to trigger emotions.

The striking argument: “We have to advertise more emotional.”

Why does Emotional Advertising not work?

These emotions do not allow conclusions about the actual product that is being advertised!

Instead of a solid brand analysis (which requires lots of work), the marketing department or an advertising agency pulls itself out of the affair by referring to as little specifics as possible.

That’s why emotional advertising does not increase differentiation, but instead, advertising lacks brand-specific communication.

What’s the result of Emotional Advertising?

As a result of emotional advertising, a brand is undermining its means of existence – which is to make products and services that add value to the lives of their customers.

A brand is unnecessarily wasting resources for no reason by

  • moving away from creating customer value and
  • spending lots of money on communicative measures.

All these efforts do not allow any conclusions about the brand.

Instead, they devastate the Brand Image, that a brand has been working on to establish for so long.

Is Humor in Advertising Effective?

No matter how much ads affect turnover, one thing is for sure: advertising is expensive. Very expensive. That’s why it should also increase your sales.

Humor and funny exaggeration in advertising help sell more when they make it easier for consumers to understand the benefits of a product.

Generic humorous ads with no relation to the actual product or service may be funny and get lots of attention for a moment, but they are unable to increase sales in the long run.

There is a difference between consumers liking an ad and consumers liking a brand:

  • Can emotions in advertisements make consumers laugh? Yes.
  • Do emotions lead consumers to buy your product? Not necessarily.

If the emotions in an advertisement don’t show the advantages of your product, they will not positively affect your turnover.


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