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Monday, June 10, 2013





“I have learned that people will forget what you said,
people will forget what you did,
but people will never forget how you made them feel.”



                                                                                      --Maya Angelou


It’s pretty hard these days to find a marketer anywhere who doesn’t agree with the principle that, if you want to build a strong, winning brand, you must connect emotionally with the brand’s target.  We find this principle widely acknowledged across fast-moving consumer, pharmaceutical, and medical device brands.  And mostly what marketers mean when they express the principle is that their brand positioning strategies must include emotional needs and benefits.  Since so many brands are now relatively equal in performance, it’s hard to disagree with the “emotional benefit principle” which, when done well, enables a brand to build a sustained, meaningful relationship with a given target consumer or customer.


But there’s the rub--getting the emotional benefit “done well,” as in:


  • Finding one that the target links directly to your brand’s functional performance;
  • Finding one that hasn’t been so over-used across many brands and categories; and,
  • Finding one that works only for (or at least better for) your brand than it does for others in the same category or class…differentiated!


And there’s one other aspect to getting the emotional benefit done well:  knowing when and how to communicate it.  Because many marketers feel the pressure to get an emotional benefit “out there,” they often rush into communications with too many benefits—for example, with a couple of functional benefits and an added emotional one…making the creative team’s task of developing “on brief” campaign ideas virtually impossible.


While we wholeheartedly endorse the emotional benefit brand-building principle, the very best advice we can give to any marketer is to devote the time to discover potentially winning emotional benefits and to communicate them strategically.  In other words, go slow.  We also have some other advice—in this week’s Boats & Helicopters.




Emotional Benefits in the Brand Positioning:


  • It sounds so simple, but we recommend always beginning the expression of the emotional benefit with the verb to Feel.  This reminds us to follow that verb with a true feeling—for example, “Feel like a winner”  (an emotional benefit that the Gatorade Brand might use).
  • Be insistent that what is being called emotional is truly emotional, and not a higher order functional benefit.  We often hear marketers suggest something like, “Get back to a normal life” as an emotional benefit; but it’s not emotional at all.  There is no “feeling” expressed and its meaning could not be clearer:  being able to resume the functionality of normal, everyday living.
  • Absolutely refuse to allow one of the Dave Letterman Top 10 “usual suspect” emotional benefits (you know, the ones with the differentiation and memorability of elevator music) into your brand’s positioning, such as feeling


10.  Safe/safer

 9.   Assured

 8.   Rewarded

 7.   Satisfied

 6.   Like a Good Mom

 5.   Empowered

 4.   In Control

 3.   Smart/Smarter

 2.   You Can Trust

 1.   Confident


ü  Aim instead for original, fresh and more ownable emotional benefits, like these:


    • Feeling Amazement  (from Curves:  Your Curves Will Amaze You”)
    • Feeling Joyful (from Depuy Hips & Knees:  “Feel the Joy of Motion”)
    • Feeling Happy (from Ikea UK:  “It’s How It Makes You Feel—Happy Inside”)


Emotional Benefits in Communications:  There are some generally accepted principles about when to use what kinds of benefits (Product—what the product literally does; Customer Functional—what that provides the customer; and Emotional—how that makes the customer feel) in the Communications Strategy part of the brand’s Creative Brief.  Of course, there can be exceptions, but most of the time these principles hold true:


  • If your brand has a legitimate functional-benefit advantage, make the most of that in your communications.  For example, if your brand can resolve pain 19 hours faster than others in class, drive that benefit hard…and don’t muddle it with some kind of “vanilla” or other over-used emotional benefit.
  • If you know that competition is going to launch a product with a functional benefit that will equal (neutralize) or best your functional benefit, add a meaningful emotional benefit to your functional one ahead of time…to insulate your franchise.  (This is exactly what Viagra did in the 2-3 years prior to the introduction of Levitra and Cialis.)
  • If your brand is the 3rd, 4th or 5th to enter the market and it has parity product benefits with others already launched, move up the “benefit ladder” and lead with a novel customer functional benefit.  Don’t waste precious company resources repeating the same, well-known product benefits that others before you have already claimed.
  • Go with an emotional-only benefit communication effort IF your brand has broadly established its functional benefits, has a strong franchise heritage, and is the leader or strong #2 in the market.


We hope these tips are helpful, whether you’re engineering an emotional benefit into your brand positioning strategy or adding one to your communication campaign.  But whatever approach you choose, make sure you’re dealing with real, honest-to-goodness feelings that your target will readily recognize and appreciate.


Richard Czerniawski & Mike Maloney


Richard Czerniawski

430 Abbotsford Road

Kenilworth, Illinois 60043

tel 847.256.8820 fax 847.256.8847

reply to Richard: or



Mike Maloney

1506 West 13th

Austin, Texas 78703

tel 512.236.0971 fax 512.236.0972

reply to Mike: or

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