When consumers interact with a brand, there is an emotional consequence. Brand failure, even in the most insignificant categories, can cause frustration, anger, even embarrassment. Brand success can lift spirits and turn a bad day around. What’s interesting is these emotional consequences are often not just directed at the brand, but at the user. Ever felt like a sucker for buying a brand? Ever felt more confident about yourself when using a brand?

As a brand builder, the goal is to marry your brand to a positive emotional experience that enhances the user’s day and their self opinion. In short, interaction with this brand makes me feel ______. So when I want to feel that way, I reach for the brand. This is the essence of the emotional benefit.

Unlike with functional benefits, it is often much easier to differentiate your brand with its emotional benefit. When I was a boy decades ago (ouch), Nike and Adidas were functionally marketed brands with little differentiation. Nike figured out the emotional benefit of running (and fitness in general) to its users, and the rest is history.

In the coming posts, we will unpack emotional benefit development. While functional benefit remains precedent to emotional benefit in my opinion, it’s the MARKETER that is typically the author of emotional benefit strategy. Net, this is where we earn our keep in brand construction.

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Comment by Michael B. Moore on September 27, 2009 at 10:57am
Another great post - Thanks David!

While functional benefit remains precedent to emotional benefit in my opinion, it’s the MARKETER that is typically the author of emotional benefit strategy.

I look forward to discussing this with you further. I have another thought about the above, but won't highjack your post here with that (I'll post it later) other than to say that I think that emotional considerations are actually the prevailing criteria in branding. To make a long hypothesis short, I believe that humans are entirely emotional beings and that we consume the world through the context of our emotions. I think that some things have more emotional impact than others (some have very little to none) but that our psychology is what drives our perception of product experiences.

That said, I think its marketers' challenge to figure out what are the key, relevant emotional touch points that they can leverage to market their products. Beyond that, they have to ensure that there is strong connectivity between the physical experience and the emotional that surrounds it. Where brands get in trouble is when there is dissonance between those criteria. Consumers call BS and brands die. That, or consumers change and the brands continue marketing to the old target.
Comment by Gunnar Branson on September 27, 2009 at 11:38pm
Your post is spot-on, David. I look forward to reading more posts as you go even deeper into the connection between the emotional communication of a brand and the actual experience of the service or product(s) that are part of the brand experience. As you point out, Nike differentiated themselves quite nicely through the emotional benefit of sports - not just the functional aspects of a padded running shoe.

The history of Nike's brand has always fascinated me - not just because of the brilliant advertising, the brash attitude simply expressed in the tag line "Just do it.", or the savvy use of sports celebrity endorsements. I've wanted to know more about Nike because it seems clear to me that their brand existing long before Phil Knight even thought to have a company.

Athletic shoes at their core always possessed, in some way, the emotional charge of the brand now owned by Nike. Consider how Ray Bradbury wrote about tennis shoes in 1957's Dandelion Wine/a>/b>:

"Somehow, the people who made ...

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