Brand Building
October 19, 2016
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Striking a New Emotional Chord

Nearly all brands realize the importance of making an emotional connection with consumers, but the most successful ones are taking a more creative route, weaving emotional elements into their communication in a way that goes beyond the traditional.

These companies are fine-tuning emotional connections with relevant, passionate stories that truly resonate with their targets. Let’s take a look at three examples of brands that are creating deeper emotional connections to drive the type of brand loyalty that transcends consumers’ love for a product and creates long-term brand ambassadors.

REI Celebrates Passion

While in the past, companies may have relied on basic tactics like puppies and talking cats to pull at heartstrings, today’s consumers expect more. They want to be inspired and to feel like their favorite brands are just as passionate as they are about the things they love.

REI has achieved this through a powerful video series called “Every Trail Connects” that celebrates the inspirational stories of dedicated hikers and its customers’ love of exploring the outdoors.

“The most interesting thing about the trails is the stories: the personalities, the people who shape them and bring life to them. We wanted a narrative-based campaign that tells the stories of people who live their lives around the outdoors,” said Ben Steele, chief creative officer at REI.

By celebrating people’s passions, brands like REI are able to engage with their customers and potential customers on a deeper level, creating loyal followers in the process.

Cadillac Creates An Experience

Luxury car manufacturer, Cadillac, has taken another unique approach to making effective emotional connections. By opening The Cadillac House, an art and fashion house in NYC, the brand has gone beyond the basic sales pitch to create a full-on brand experience. By tying the Cadillac brand in with art and fashion—two things both relevant and adored by their target audience—The Cadillac House helps create a brand lifestyle story that allows the brand to be seen through a more significant lens.

“Our challenge is to make it so that someone can actually see themselves in a Cadillac. To do that, they have to find the brand relevant to their lifestyle. Being relevant means being culturally relevant,” said Melody Lee, Director of Brand Marketing for Cadillac.

Brands like Cadillac have proven that tying a relevant brand experience to consumers’ lifestyle aspirations is a surefire way for marketers to strengthen the emotional bond with their targets.

Yeti Gets Personal

Outdoor company, Yeti has launched a mini-documentary series that masters the art of emotional storytelling. Dubbed “My Old Man”, the series honors fatherhood and showcases the role that dads play in passing along a love of nature to their kids. The key to the campaign’s success is how well the stories resonate with consumers on both an emotional and personal level—allowing the target to see themselves in the story.

“It was important for us to get well-rounded stories where people can see something that reminds them of themselves,” said Scott Ballew, head of content at Yeti.

Sara Kenton, senior director of digital at Yeti said, “We’re using [videos] to tell stories that have a real human factor that connects with our core audience, and to a larger audience. We’ve gotten fantastic feedback so far. It’s hit an emotional chord with consumers that you don’t get from a traditional ad campaign.”

Companies like Yeti are proving that when consumers can relate their own experiences to a brand, it gives people a feeling of “they get me”—broadening the brand’s ability to stretch and grow with their consumers’ needs.

So if you’re considering forging a stronger emotional bond with your consumers, here are a few things to keep in mind. Make sure your brand story is not only relevant, but connects to and celebrates your consumers’ life passions. Don’t be afraid to take risks and go against conventional tactics—the unexpected can be just what your consumers are expecting.

What do you think—what other brands have excelled at creating effective emotional connections with their targets? Do you have any other tips on how marketers can strengthen emotional bonds with consumers? Connect with me in the comments below!


Elizabeth Heist is a Strategist at Seed Strategy where she helps brands transform consumer insights and passions into bold strategic foundations with an eye towards the future. 

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