Self-expression, personality, relationships, communities: collectively these concepts form the foundation of how we live and interact with the world. 

As my previous four blog posts have demonstrated (Need a refresher? Find them here 1, 2, 3, 4) brands are often at the centre of each. These concepts get to the core of our beings and what do we have when we reach it? Emotion. It’s ALL about emotion.

The traditional brand awareness model proposes that by broadcasting your brand’s attributes you can differentiate it from the competition. In 2001, Gobé synthesized the growing body of research that suggested this traditional model was insufficient to describe people’s interaction with brands, into what he called the emotional branding paradigm. At its core, the theory proposes that it is the emotional connections that people form with brands that allow brands to be truly successful. Emotions bring brands to life.

Most businesses default to brand awareness principles by selling features. These features are great, but brand loyalty is anything but logical: it's emotional.

It seems simple: create an emotional connection and you will succeed. The reality is that making emotional connections is anything but simple. Most businesses default to brand awareness principles by selling features: “our products have the best reliability,” “we have served our marketplace for 30 years,” “our products are made out of the best materials,” etcetera. These features are great, they are logical reasons for making a purchase, but the point of Gobé’s research is that brand loyalty is anything but logical: it's emotional.

Take my status as a Toronto Maple Leafs fan. Logic, and all of my non-Leafs fan friends, say that I should have abandoned this team years ago. If I derive pleasure from watching my team succeed, decades of failure and disappointment suggest I jump ship but I persist. Why?? My identity as a proud Toronto-born Canadian, the history of the club, a lifetime of memories with friends, the threat of ostracism by those same friends, 4.5 years living in enemy territory (Montreal), the hope of someday celebrating a cup win, and saying I was there for the lows and the highs are just a few of the reasons why my support has galvanized… But not one makes any logical sense. I should be cheering for the Kings or Hawks or if I’m particularly patriotic then maybe even the Habs: teams that stand a chance of actually winning the Stanley Cup (ok not the Habs). Its emotion: I can’t abandon MY team.

Emotional brand connections can run deep for everything from coffee to motorcycles to underwear to greeting cards.

Sports teams are brands that evoke particularly strong emotional responses from fans (its why I chose American college football fans as test subjects for my thesis), but emotional brand connections can run deep for everything from coffee to motorcycles to underwear to greeting cards. So why not yours?

To make it happen it comes down to three [not so] simple steps:

1) Come to a deep understanding of who you are, what you stand for and what your product and service is

2) Come to a deep understanding of the benefits your audience seeks

3) Connect 1 and 2 in everything you say and do

Those three steps are what get me excited about branding. They’re why I chose to work for aasman. They’re the guiding light for our staff. They take your brand from the what to the why. They’re branding… on purpose.


*This is my fifth and final blog in a series that examines how aasman merges academic theory and research with 25 years of experience to help our clients develop new and exciting ways to engage with their customers. These insights are drawn from the branding thesis I wrote for my Masters of Science in Administration – Marketing Specialization. If you’d like to read the full thesis, you can find it here.

Gobé, Marc (2001), Emotional Branding: The New Paradigm for Connecting Brands to People, Allworth Press, 2001.


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