Branding for emotion

I’m a sucker for buying things on impulse. Without keeping my emotions in check, I’ve bought products and services on a whim. Have you been there too?

How is it that we sometimes are unconscious about our spending behavior?

It’s no secret that humans are susceptible to persuasion. Designers and marketers have been using cognitive bias techniques for years to influence consumers to buy their products or services. These biases work by tapping into the consumer’s emotions and make them feel more comfortable with the brand they are buying.

Both impulse buying and phenomena like shiny object syndrome make us convince ourselves we absolutely must have a particular product or service. It can be triggered by the way a product or service looks, its pricing, or the status we think it brings. Whenever something appeals to our senses, our Primal Brain will try to sell us on the idea of liking it and eventually obtaining it. The ironic thing is: we believe we are consciously in control of these thoughts.

Our Primal Brain

The term ‘Primal brain’ (also called the lizard or reptilian brain) refers to the oldest parts of our brains which are responsible for basic functions like breathing, eating and sleeping. The primal brain is also responsible for our emotions and instincts that we do not consciously control.

To make conscious decisions we need our ‘rational brain’; the part of the brain that in everyday situations makes us behave like civilized human beings. If it weren’t for the rational brain, we would still be acting like primates.

Still, the primal brain is cunning and occasionally convinces the rational brain into sweet talking our ‘gut decisions’. It subconsciously makes the rational brain come up with reasons why the emotional decision is the best and only decision.

Subliminal messaging in advertising


In fact, it is so deceitful; when someone else proposes an alternative service or product, another cognitive bias pops into place, something called the introspection illusion.

This bias leads people to be convinced of their superiority in having more information than the other person. And they will therefore make confident but false explanations of their own behavior. It then enforces the belief they must have their object of desire even more.

Gollum’s Object of desire.

How do you make use of it?

As designers we are of course fascinated by these phenomena because we can use them to our advantage in the brand design and marketing campaigns we create for our clients.

Devious? Maybe. Effective? You bet!

To do this right, though, it is critical for designers to understand their audience, so they can create memorable content accordingly. Since we’re all wired to make decisions based on emotions – not logic – we are more likely to agree with a message if it is framed in a way that appeals to our emotions.

Placement of price after product creates buying incentive.

Design can persuade through the use of colors, shapes and fonts that appeal to the human brain. The composition of product and price can make or break a deal. In webdesign, placement right above the fold (the part where your browser can’t see the rest of the page anymore) can convince people to keep on scrolling.

Webdesign above the fold

Especially these days when everyone has a screen in their pocket, design needs to move. As a branding agency with devotion to motion that’s exactly what we do; we add movement and sound to the mix. Depending on the way something moves, we can better steer the feelings associated with a brand. A carefully animated logo can convey joy and happiness or command respect and awe. A powerful tool to make the brands we work for stand out from the crowd.

Fun and socializing is emphazised in the motion of the letters e’s laughing.

Ask yourself: Is your brand utilizing all these options to the max? Are your ideal clients attracted to your brand in the way they ideally could be? Are you using the subconscious to its maximum potential?

Or are you just telling yourself you are? 😉

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