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Do Consumers Really Feel Emotional About Brands?

POINT: Paul Williams

Heck, yeah we’re emotional about brands… products, companies, sporting teams… We put their logos on our cars as bumper stickers, and on our bodies as tattoos.

The brands we purchase become extensions of our own identity. Are you a Mac or a PC? Chevy or Ford? Mercedes or Lexus? Heinz or Hunts? Coke or Pepsi?

One quality that differentiates a mere company from a brand is when we feel passion and emotion about their products.

Of course, not all brands get to this level. For example, when Googling the potato brand Ore-Ida, I don’t get matches for “ore-ida tattoo.” (Harley-Davidson and the Apple logos are plentiful.)

The CrackerJack marketer pays attention to how much customers do and don’t care about our brands and how passionate they are or aren’t.

Sometimes, we think our products and services are more important to our customers than they actually are. We forget that they don’t know or care as much as we do.

Perhaps it is because what we offer doesn’t clearly stand out among the competition. What makes is better and different isn’t obvious. Find ways to get customers to sample, try, and test. Make sure your marketing materials clearly express – in an overt manner – the features, benefits, and “so what” about your offering.

Sometimes we don’t realize what raving fans customers are. If you’re not connected to your call center, customer service team, or online feedback tools, you may not hear how excited your customers are. You want to tap into that enthusiasm. Give those customers who are already talking about you tools to spread the word.


Brands that fail to evoke emotions from customers are forced to compete using low price strategies. Brands that do evoke emotions from customers are able to compete by tapping into people’s aspirations.

We all aspire to live a certain lifestyle, but most times we settle for living a life below our aspirations.

Emotionally intelligent brands understand an aspirational gap exists between the lifestyle people aspire to live and the actual lifestyle they do live.

By tapping into people’s wants and offering them a way to actualize their aspirations, brands can transcend the commoditization trap. Successful brands find ways to close the aspirational gap by fulfilling consumer wants, not needs.

Apple competes by closing the aspirational gap. So does Lexus. Nordstrom too. As does Tiffany & Co.. These are all emotional brands. They go beyond fulfilling needs to realizing desires.

Needs are basic. Needs are rational. Needs are boring. Needs have been commoditized. Every unremarkable business seems to be in the needs-fulfilling business.

Wants are emotional. Wants are aspirational. Wants are desirable. Wants are where the profits are.

Only truly remarkable businesses are in the business of satisfying customer wants by helping customers actualize their aspirations. These companies give their customers the feeling that no expense was spared. Whether they are selling gadgets, cars, jewelry, or $4 cups of coffee, brands that fulfill their customers’ wants help their customers to live the life of their dreams.

Crackerjack Marketer

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