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Home | Plumbing The Depths of Emotion

 March 26, 2008

 

PLUMBING THE DEPTHS OF EMOTION

 

Emotional connections are vitally important in creating brand loyalty. Why is it that consumers will pay a significant price premium (upwards of 50%) for Johnson’s Baby Powder? Is it the talc ingredient found in the product? Or is it the product’s fragrance? The fact of the matter is that competitive baby powder products are comprised of the same ingredients – talc and fragrance. And, while the rational mind of the consumer chooses to defend the selection of Johnson’s Baby Powder with one of these product attributes the subconscious mind, if plumbed, would undoubtedly reveal an emotional connection. It’s the only connection that matters when it comes to establishing “brands.”

 

Dr. Abraham Maslow, the clinical psychologist, suggested the importance of emotions in his theory of the “Hierarchy of Needs.” As you will recall from your studies, he postulated that there is a hierarchy of needs progressing from the most basic to the most sophisticated. He likened the hierarchy to a ladder we climb one rung at a time. We must first step onto the lowest rung, which deals with survival (give me food, clothing, shelter), before we can proceed up the ladder. The topmost rung is … yes, you have it, “self-actualization.” Self-actualization is an emotional need. It’s in one’s head. So he is informing us that emotional needs are the highest order needs. And remember, needs and benefits are “two sides of the same coin.” This suggests, in turn, that emotional benefits are the highest order benefits. Ergo we choose Johnson’s Baby Powder because it symbolizes the deep and abiding love we have for and share with our baby, Starbuck’s Coffee for a deserved self-rewarding experience, Rolex watches to affirm our success to and status with others and, maybe, Viagra because it helps us feel like a “whole man” again.

 

Accordingly, our brand positioning should (at some point in our brand lifecycle) cater to an emotional need and pay-off that need with an emotional benefit. But as we have stated in past issues of DISPATCHES, many of the emotional benefits we encounter in Brand Positioning Strategy statements are just so much malarkey. They either haven’t earned it (one rung of the ladder at a time), or it’s wishful thinking (that deceives no one but the marketers that have penned it), or it’s over the top (in other words it’s --------!). Many more times the proffered emotional benefit is innocuous. It just doesn’t mean anything to prospective target-customers.

 

Part of the problem traces to our rather limited vocabulary (do you find this surprising? astonishing?) when it comes to identifying and expressing emotions. Most often the emotional benefit in the BPS will read “confidence/trust,” “peace of mind,” “control,” or “feel like a (whatever – you fill in the blank).” It’s just so shallow. Moreover, it is probably not grounded in the reality of the product, brand equity, customer experiences and/or perceptions. A limited vocabulary will also hamper our ability to identify and/or understand the emotions of our target-customer, no less be able to blueprint and establish the connection we hope to build through our marketing initiatives.

 

It’s important for us, then, to expand our vocabulary when it comes to emotions. Dave Roche recently provided us with a listing of “the vocabulary of feelings” which provides a useful starting point since “feelings” are, after all, “emotions.” The source of this work is “Improving Therapeutic Communications – A Guide for Developing Effective Techniques” by Hammond, Hepworth and Smith. Actually, Dave came across this in his extensive reading on developing healthy relationships – the kind between partners. This, too, is apropos since brands establish relationships with target customers, products do not. The vocabulary of feelings that Dave shared with us (which we believe may only be a partial listing) has 10 basic feelings (e.g., happy, fearful, lonely, etc.), which, in turn, contain a plethora of feeling states, which are further classified as to being “strong,” “moderate” and “mild.” The total number of vocabulary words is more than 300. A more precise articulation of someone who is “happy” could be “on cloud nine” (strong), jovial (moderate), or glad (mild).

 

We need to establish an emotional connection with target-customers to create brand loyalty and, in order to do so, we need to plumb the depths of emotions in drawing-up our Brand Positioning Strategy statements.

 

 

BOATS & HELICOPTERS:

 

1. Expand your vocabulary of emotions. This will assist you in identifying target-customers’ feelings and articulating the emotional connection you need to establish. Below is a list of “the vocabulary of feelings”:

 

THE VOCABULARY OF FEELINGS

 

LEVEL OF INTENSITY HAPPY CARING DEPRESSED INADEQUATE FEARFUL


STRONG

Thrilled


On cloud nine


Ecstatic


Overjoyed


Excited


Elated


Sensational


Exhilarated


Fantastic


Terrific


On top of the world


Turned on


Euphoric


Enthusiastic


Delighted


Marvelous


Great

 

 

Tenderness toward


Affection for


Captivated by


Attached to


Devoted to


Adoration


Loving


Infatuated


Enamored


Cherish


Idolize

 


Worship

 

 

Desolate


Dejected


Hopeless


Alienated


Depressed


Gloomy


Dismal


Bleak


In despair


Empty


Barren


Grieved


Grief


Despair

 

Grim

 

Worthless


Good for nothing


Washed up


Powerless


Helpless


Crippled


Inferior


Emasculated


Useless


Finished


Like a failure

 

Impotent

Terrified



Frightened


Intimidated


Horrified


Desperate


Panicky


Terror-stricken


Stage fright


Dread


Vulnerable

 

Paralyzed

 

MODERATE

Cheerful


Light-hearted


Happy


Serene


Wonderful


Up


Aglow


Glowing


In high spirits


Jovial


Riding high


Elevated


Neat

 

 

Caring


Fond of


Regards, respectful


Admiration


Concern for


Hold dear


Prize

 

Taken with


Turned on


Trust


Close

Distressed


Downcast


Demoralized


Discouraged


Miserable


Pessimistic


Tearful


Weepy


Rotten


Awful


Horrible


Terrible


Blue


Lost


Melancholy


Upset

 

 

Inadequate


Whipped


Defeated


Incompetent


Inept


Overwhelmed


Ineffective


Lacking


Deficient


Unable


Incapable


Small


Insignificant


Like Casper


Milquetoast


Unfit


Unimportant


Incomplete


No good


Immobilized

 

 

Afraid


Scared


Fearful


Apprehensive


Jumpy


Shaky


Threatened


Distrustful


Risky


Alarmed


Butterflies


Awkward


Defensive

 

MILD

Glad


Good


Contented


Satisfied


Gratified


Pleasant


Pleased


Fine

 

 

Warm toward


Friendly


Like


Positive toward

Unhappy


Down


Low


Bad


Blah


Disappointed


Sad


Glum

 

Lacking confidence


Unsure of yourself


Uncertain


Weak


Inefficient

 

Nervous


Anxious


Unsure


Hesitant


Timid


Shy


Worried


Uneasy


Bashful


Embarrassed


Ill at ease


Doubtful


Jittery


On edge


Uncomfortable


Self-conscious

 

 

LEVEL OF INTENSITY CONFUSED HURT ANGRY LONELY GUILT-SHAME

 

STRONG

Perplexed


Confounded


In a dilemma


Befuddled


In a quandary


Full of questions


Confused


Trapped


Bewildered


Puzzled


Baffled

 

 

Crushed


Destroyed


Ruined


Degraded


Pain(ed)


Wounded


Devastated


Tortured


Disgraced


Humiliated


At the mercy of


Cast off


Forsaken


Rejected


Discarded

 

 

Furious


Enraged


Seething


Outraged


Infuriated


Burned up


Pissed off


Fighting mad


Nauseated


Violent


Indignant


Hatred


Bitter


Galled


Vengeful


Hateful


Vicious

 

 

Isolated


Abandoned


All alone


Forsaken


Cut-off

 

 

Sick at heart


Unforgivable


Humiliated


Disgraced


Degraded


Horrible


Mortified


Exposed

 

 

 

MODERATE

Mixed-up


Disorganized


Foggy


Troubled


Adrift


Lost


At loose ends


Going around in
Circles



Disconcerted


Frustrated


Flustered


In a bind


Ambivalent


Disturbed


Helpless


Embroiled

 

 

Hurt


Belittled


Shot down


Overlooked


Abused


Deprecated


Criticized


Censured


Discredited


Laughed at


Mistreated


Ridiculed


Devalued


Scorned


Mocked


Scoffed at


Used


Exploited


Slammed


Slandered


Cheapened

 

 

Resentful


Irritated


Hostile


Annoyed


Upset with


Agitated


Mad


Aggravated


Offended


Antagonistic


Exasperated


Belligerent


Mean


Vexed


Spiteful


Vindictive

Lonely


Alienated


Estranged


Remote


Alone


Apart from others


Insulated from
others

 

Ashamed


Guilty


Remorseful


Crummy


To blame


Lost face


Demeaned

 

MILD

Uncertain


Unsure


Bothered


Uncomfortable


Undecided

 

 

Put down


Neglected


Overlooked


Minimized


Let down


Unappreciated


Taken for granted

 

 

Uptight


Disgusted


Bugged


Turned off


Put out


Miffed


Irked


Perturbed


Ticket off


Teed off


Chagrined


Cross


Dismayed


Impatient

 

 

Left out


Excluded


Lonesome


Distant


Aloof

Regretful


Wrong


Embarrassed


At fault


In error


Responsible for


Blew it


Goofed


Lament

 

 

 

2. Get real with emotions. Don’t promise what you can’t fulfill. The most valuable emotions are one that the customer grants you though the customer experience with the brand. It is part of the brand equity. It’s important to harvest these and reflect them back to the target-customer through your marketing initiatives.
3.

Connect on a subconscious level with customers. In other words, don’t tell them what they should be feeling, let them feel it through the stimulus (i.e., communications, merchandising, packaging, public relations, etc.) you share with them.

 

4.

Be aware of where you are in the product lifecycle. While your BPS may point the way to an emotional benefit, be cognizant that it may take time to get there. Don’t forget to communicate your product rational benefit in those cases where you have clear superiority versus competition.

 

 

 

Richard Czerniawski & Mike Maloney


Richard Czerniawski


430 Abbotsford Road

Kenilworth, Illinois 60043

tel 847.256.8820 fax 847.256.8847


reply to Richard:

rdczerniawski@cs.com or

richardcz@bdn-intl.com

 

 

Mike Maloney


1506 West 13th

Austin, Texas 78703

tel 512.236.0971 fax 512.236.0972


reply to Mike:

mikewmaloney@cs.com or

mikemaloney@bdn-intl.com

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