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Brad Breininger & Marko Zonta

Zync - Journal | Branding with heart.

Discussing the effect emotion has on brands.

Branding with heart.

Should a brand personality include emotion, or should it be strictly rational?

What does emotional branding mean? What are the most important elements? Does every brand need to find a way to build emotion into their strategy to be authentic? Is it possible to have too much emotion? 

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Recorded on October 31st, 2020


Brad Breininger: 0:00

Hi everyone, and welcome to this week’s everything is brand new. This week, we want to talk about branding with heart. So building emotion into your brand.

So one of the most important elements of any kind of brand is this meld of both rational and emotional elements. So Vincent, what do you think are the most important elements of making sure that emotion is baked into a brand?

Vincent Champenois 0:39
Well, I guess the first thing you have to do is to make sure that you’re true to yourself, right? And that you are not pretending to be somebody you’re not. I think your brand is going to reflect just that. My advice would be, Be true to yourself. Yes.

Brad Breininger 0:53
But be true to yourself. Do you mean like that the brand needs to understand what their position in the marketplace is? And that if if emotion is part of it, then they need to add it. But if it’s not, do they still need to find a way to build it in?

Marko Zonta 1:08
But do you guys think I would say that emotion is always a part of every brand, obviously, some brands may be more rational in terms of that there may be all kinds of price decisions, technical decisions, very kind of logical analytical parts to to the brands based on their product or their service. So definitely, that’s, that’s a big part of it. And some brands require a lot of that, but there’s always an emotional part to it. And then there are other brands where the emotion is a huge part of that of their story and their brand. So really a thing that developing the brand and being authentic to who you are, you need to understand what’s your audience looking for? And who are you really in terms of what what you’re offering is? Is it more of a kind of technical, rational, analytical thing that you’re offering to people? Or is it a little bit softer, where people can really get a little bit more emotional, a little bit more kind of first sumeet attached to something, right. And you know, quite frankly, a great example of that are, you know, for example, charitable organizations where they really need to play out the emotional side of it, because they’re trying to help situations that are very emotional, in a lot of cases, even less, for example, like health care and stuff like that. But then, of course, you have retail products that can be very emotional in so many ways. So so there’s definitely the balance between the two. And you have to figure out what’s more important in your marketplace.

Brad Breininger 2:39
So are you assuming then Marco, that the emotion is happiness? or touching? Or? Or can the emotion be anger or fear? Or, I mean, there’s a wide range of emotions and some brands, maybe they need to build some of those that we would consider more negative emotions into the next.

Gabi Gomes 2:58
Oh, for sure. I was gonna throw out there since 2020, you know, has been the year of toilet paper. Let’s let’s look at the toilet paper brands for a sec. Right? It’s a very utilitarian product, we all need it, etc. But you look at cottonelle, you look at Royale, you look at that green, no name stuff, there is still an emotional decision that is being made there. We’re still talking about toilet paper, we’re talking about very soft toilet paper or more towards the cardboard side. But if you look at the the two softer ones, let’s say the Royal you may have an emotional connection to those little kittens that we see. Right? We may have on the cottonelle side. cottonelle also does you know a lot of charitable work with their fashion forwards and all those dresses and toilet paper and whatnot in which expands into that. But either one, it would be hard to differentiate those two brands. So I think the decisions you’re making are really emotional connections that are tied to those brands that they project outwards. Now, when you talk about, you know, the not grumpier, but more aggressive side of things. We see that a lot in incur manufacturers right for built tough, got this tough, aggressive, you know, persona that’s coming out from the brand. And that’s, that’s baked into the product itself, the way the trucks look, probably more so than some of their other vehicles. But for sure, that’s an emotional piece of that brand as well. Whether you want to look aggressive tough Hummer is another one that builds on that toughness. You know,

Marko Zonta 4:24
I think that some emotions are quite obvious. I think sometimes, and companies can pay for that. But a lot of times it’s a little bit less obvious in, in my mind, like one I thought great example of that was and I hate use Apple as an example because apples use so much, but this is probably I don’t know, 16 or more years ago, when all the companies that were in the business of making music players when companies were advertising, mp3 players, it was all about technical specs. If you looked at any ads at that time, it was all about You know how much memory you’ve had, like all those different things that you didn’t really know what it meant. And then Apple basically put out an ad that said 1000 songs in your pocket. That’s all they have to say. And look at where that industry is now. You know, so many years later, it resonated. Right. And it wasn’t this, obviously, over the top emotional thing that they actually put out is that people are actually able to relate to 1000 songs in your pocket versus some technical specs that were just meaningless. They just have no idea what it even meant.

Brad Breininger 5:38
Yeah, and this brings up an even greater opportunity for brands and that is not just looking at your product, but looking at the result of your product. The reality is, is that mp3 players play music, right? It’s like if you take the Disney brand, Disney makes movies, they have parks that you can take your kids to, you know, they have a whole bunch of merchandising and product. But at the end of it all, it’s about tugging at the heartstrings. It’s about telling stories it’s about. So they don’t focus on what they do, or what they make, they focus on the result of what that is, which is watching a movie and feeling something and hearing a story, or going and sharing memories or creating memories with your family. So it’s all of this results based branding that allows them to really become integrated into people’s lives, like the people who follow Disney are a little bit crazy, to be honest. And I think all of us do to a certain degree. But there are people who it is a lifestyle for these people. So you don’t get that kind of brand engagement through a good product or good specs or anything like that there

It has to be something that ties back to the emotions in the heart of the people that you’re trying to engage.

Marko Zonta 7:02
The other things on exactly that point, I would actually say that the emotional side of your business allows you to build like almost bank those positive emotional experiences. And it actually goes exactly to your point, Brad, if a brand has fans or followers or people that really buy into their their story, their positioning, even if they actually dropped the ball at some point, and let’s say one of their products gets recalled or something happens. Because you got so much goodwill with your audience, they then actually pause for a second and they will give you another chance they will come right back. But if you don’t actually have that, that emotional connection to your audience, they will drop you right away. So So having that emotional connection is not just in terms of, you know, kind of the transactional thing, but it’s a long term relationship. You know, necessity, I would say like it’s an important,

Brad Breininger 8:04
it’s like a risk aversion tool, you’re you actually have this emotional bank that you can go in and draw from if you build it correctly.

Marko Zonta 8:13
Absolutely, yes.

Gabi Gomes 8:14
I think decision making is also based on emotions, right? you justify what you’re buying, or what service you’re going to use, etc. From the rational side of the brain, you compare the specs to your competitors, all those different criteria, but at the end of the day, it’s an emotional connection decision that you probably end up making the emotional comes in probably towards after you’ve done the rational side of it. I always believe that there is an emotional side to decision making.

Brad Breininger 8:46
See, I see it as the opposite, Gary, I think that you emotionally know what you want to do. And then you find ways to rationally justify

it want,

I want a Ferrari, and I’m gonna find a way to get that kind of idea, Christian, like

Gabi Gomes 9:03
I want a Ferrari too. But

Christian Rosenthal | ZYNC 9:06
yeah, so I think I agree with everything you’ve said so far, I think let’s see here is determining how to create that emotional bond with your audience, right. And we’ve talked about this before. It’s all a matter of knowing your audience, knowing what makes them tick, so that you can somehow create this relationship within the brand and the consumer or client or customer. Right. So I feel that that’s key. You need to know your audience in order for you to create this bond. And I think Brandon does this really good. And it’s always to talk about 111 talking about emotional branding. Every time I see a TV commercial, start crying that I didn’t even use But they managed this

Gabi Gomes 10:02
what they felt like, it’s so soft skin what

Christian Rosenthal | ZYNC 10:06
I know. But again, they create this emotional bond that makes you feel something. And I think that’s the key here.

Brad Breininger 10:14
Yeah, it almost goes beyond knowing your audience and just knowing human humanity and understanding, you know, this is when you have to start getting into elements like psychology and sociology, and even just the anatomy of humans and all of those elements, because whether or not an audience knows that that’s going to relate to them. I mean, I would imagine that if you asked a lot of people, okay, we’re a soap manufacturer, and we’re going to do ads around how people feel about themselves and their self esteem. A lot of people logically or rationally would say, why would a soap company even bother to do that, that doesn’t make any sense stick to what you know, like, I only buy soap to get my body clean. But the reality is, is that sometimes we don’t always know how we’re going to react to things. So it’s on the side of the brand, to come up with thoughts and ideas, where they might know some things about their audience. But they also know about humanity. They also know about people they know about what drives us as human beings to be able to come up with ideas or things that we might not even know that these are are going to hit us the way they do.

Marko Zonta 11:27
See, like Jeremy is definitely always on the more rational side. And he’s been trying to say something for a while. So I’ll actually give him this opportunity to inject his rational thinking here. Yeah, I’m gonna say like, I don’t know if I agree with you guys at all. And he basically, if the product is good, and it’s the right price point, I don’t care if the commercial makes me cry, like I don’t, that’s not gonna get me to buy the product, what’s gonna get me to buy the product is the good product. And it’s priced accordingly. The rest of stuff? I don’t know, I don’t know if I agree with you guys with all this other stuff. I mean, hold on. It’s separate. Listen for the paper screen. Yeah, I mean, it separates them, I guess, from everybody else, when everything else is the same, you know, if everyone’s got the same price point, and their products are all similar in nature. But if those other two things, allows them to be distinguished from the group, emotion doesn’t really add anything any value for me. But again, yeah, I’m on the other side.

Brad Breininger 12:31
So Jeremy,

Jeremy Linskill 12:34
there we go. Here we go.

Brad Breininger 12:35
Let me ask you a question. Jimmy, you have two kids. I have three questions. Have your children been to Disney World? Or any Disney property? Yeah. Have your children watch Disney movies? Or integrated with is the media? Yeah. And do your children own any Disney products whatsoever?

Jeremy Linskill 12:59
They did. They are now but

Brad Breininger 13:01
yeah. But they did it at a time. So. Okay, so do they own 20th Century Fox or MGM or universal stuff?

Jeremy Linskill 13:12
I don’t know.

Brad Breininger 13:14
You don’t even know. But you knew. My point is, is that even though you don’t think it matters emotionally, I think that there are certain brands that have done extremely well, at not not manipulating through emotion. Because if you look at the kittens for toilet paper, or you look at you know, the commercials that those are more campaigns, but when you look at a brand like Disney, the emotional connections that they’ve been able to create are so ingrained in society and so ingrained in what we expect, they have become important to Pete important to people anywhere on the spectrum, because you’re right to me, I mean, you sit more towards that rational side of the spectrum. And perhaps Gabby, maybe you sit more towards that emotional side of the spectrum. But But the reality is, is that we all sit somewhere on that spectrum. But there are certain brands like the example you brought up Marco of apple in the thousand songs in your pocket, or Disney that have gone beyond the rational or emotional leanings of any person, and have ingrained themselves and they’ve done it through emotional connection. Would you guys agree or disagree with that?

Jeremy Linskill 14:24
I don’t know. But I agree. I mean, Disney’s they’re distinctly different from everybody else. Right. And it’s not just the emotion, they own theme parks, they make cartoon movies. And that’s not emotion. I mean, that’s just being unique. But

Brad Breininger 14:39
they’re offering to other companies do that too, but not at Disney does.

Jeremy Linskill 14:44
I don’t know. Like, I don’t think my kids are loyal to Disney out of emotion. I think my kids are loyal to Disney out of the characters that they provide. You know what I mean? Like, they’ll watch whatever cartoon movies there’s definitely no loyalty there from an emotional standpoint. I mean, I’m not rooting for Disney. Any more than anybody else?

Gabi Gomes 15:01
I will I will challenge Jeremy on this.

Jeremy Linskill 15:06
You know, I see nothing that I could gang up and bring it on.

Gabi Gomes 15:11
You drive a mini Why do you drive a mini other than your wife bought it for you, but why do you drive them nuts?

Jeremy Linskill 15:18
But that’s what I’m gonna say like I I that’s a kind of an unfair question, I think because I didn’t go out and choose the car that I that I drove. Yeah, I like a mini by like a mini because it makes sense. So back to my rational thinking. It’s a small car for city driving and as for doors. Really what I mean? Yeah, sure.

Gabi Gomes 15:39
Not coolness factor, design factor. None of that design. Maybe

Jeremy Linskill 15:43
it is an emotion. I don’t know. That well designed. The piano actually is a really small car. Yet I didn’t get a choice. My wife bought the car.

Brad Breininger 15:59
Okay, so there you go. Your wife bought the car. You love your wife? Did the pointer if you made an emotional decision to drive the car?

Jeremy Linskill 16:07
There you go, I guess yeah.

Gabi Gomes 16:11
Adventure your wife likes, you know, the UK Enos

Jeremy Linskill 16:16
to be cool.

Brad Breininger 16:19
I’m her behalf she wants

Jeremy Linskill 16:23
to see through me.

Brad Breininger 16:26
You know, here’s the bottom line of I think our discussion, and that is that there are emotional opportunities at any point in any brand. And some are more pronounced than others for sure. I mean, the easy ones to spot are Disney or Apple, and even what dove is doing with their campaign, as you said, Christian, and then there are others where it’s not so easy to spot. Like if you take Walmart, for example, Walmart is always about low prices. But there is an emotional connection that people have to saving money. There’s a reason that Walmart says always low prices always like they repeat it twice, because they understand that the rationality of finding the lowest price is one thing. But to actually get people off the couch in their car to drive to Walmart, you have to make it really easy for them to feel good about saving money. The truth is, is that when people save money, they feel good, because they feel like they’ve accomplished something. So Walmart is not doing it willy nilly to position themselves that way. So even though it might look rational on the outset, the reality is, is that the way they position the cost savings is more emotional than any other cost saving retailer out there. They’ve really garnered that spot in the marketplace. Would you agree?

Marko Zonta 17:49
Yeah, absolutely. Like I think that it’s, again, it’s knowing your audience and paying for that, right? It’s building the right level of emotion into your solutions. I mean, and sometimes emotion comes in kind of unexpected times or unexpected channels. I don’t know if you guys will remember this situation that maplelea foods dealt with. This is again, like quite a few years back, where they actually have some some issues with their products that some people got food poisoning, and I believe it was actually worse than that as well. It was listeria, which is a really, yeah. And, and their response at that time. And it’s actually being used as an example of how well that was actually done. It was the CEO president at that time, actually came on TV and spoke to it directly. And it was a very emotional response, the way they manage that was received in a very positive light. Because it wasn’t from the legal standpoint, or from the technical standpoint, it was a lot more they connected with people on an emotional level, and then basically assure them that they’re dealing with everything in the background to solve the problem.

Gabi Gomes 19:01
Do you think that they had an emotional connection before that incident? Do you think that they they were an emotional brand before that incident? Or do you think that they’re more so now I’ve seen a lot of their marketing, and it really shifted towards that Canadian breasted processed meat? I don’t know that they were that beforehand?

Brad Breininger 19:21
They weren’t? I don’t think they were for sure.

Marko Zonta 19:23
Yeah, I would think that that was a turning point for them. You know, it’s almost like a new era for them from

Brad Breininger 19:29
that point on. Why it seems like I mean, we talked to a lot of different brands and you see a lot in the marketplace. And it seems like many brands their immediate out of the gate response to their brand and marketing is okay, let’s take tell people about our products. Let’s tell them what the product can do, how it can help them how it can solve their problem, all of those house and what’s and the reality is is that you know by building in the y can make connections that are a lot deeper In a lot longer lasting and, and true engagement comes by being able to do both of those things. There are some brands where, you know, the rational messaging needs to be out there a lot more, with a little touch of emotion. And then there’s other brands where they’re primarily emotional, and then there has to be rational justification to buy it. A lot of luxury brands are like that, it doesn’t make sense to pay thousands of dollars for a handbag. But what they’re selling is the status, what they’re selling is the emotional connection and what people are going to think of you. So it might be self esteem, it might be how you look to your peer group, whatever it might be. And I think if you look at that continuum, all the brands kind of sit somewhere different on that continuum between emotional and rational. But the reality is, is that they need to be able to move within that spectrum, depending on what’s going on. And I think, you know, that example of maple leaf is a really good one is that they were rational, rational, rational throughout their history, and then all of a sudden, they move to this emotional connection opportunity, and not from I mean, at the end of the day, it’s neat, and how emotional can you get about that. But to that point, their emotion is much more tied towards authenticity, canadiana, all of those kinds of things. But it’s also done in a very not over the head kind of way. And I think that’s the other key thing that we have to keep in mind here is that if you try to be emotional or brand with heart, and you’re really forcing it, people’s meter, starts to go up. And that’s not the right way to do it, either. The reality is, is that I think you have to look at three key things. Number one, is, what emotion Are you trying to get across is an emotion of fear is an emotion of esteem is an emotion of heart is an emotion of sadness, whatever it might be, we’re helping, you know, there are some charitable organizations that create campaigns and commercials to make you feel sad, so that you’ll act on that. So I think every emotion is up for grabs. But then tied to that, you have to make sure that the rationality is built in as well. So it’s that combination of branding with heart, but also branding with information and finding where you can sit on that continuum at any given time. And I think the most important part of it, is make sure that you do that with authenticity, because you cannot brand with heart if you’re hitting someone over the head and trying to manipulate them, because people will know immediately that you’re just trying to get them to do something that they don’t want to do. So, three key things to remember when you’re branding with heart, know what emotion you’re going for, and the emotion that you want to instill. understand where you need to be on that continuum between emotion and rational. And finally, just be real and be authentic about it. And don’t try and overdo it. So that’s this week’s version of everything is brand new. Join us next week we’ll have a new topic, a new discussion, maybe a few new arguments, like we’ve had a few different opinions, but that’s why it works and that’s why everything is brand.

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