Magazine article Marketing

Opinion: The Marketing Society Forum - Is There a Formula for Stimulating Emotional Responses to Brands?

Magazine article Marketing

Opinion: The Marketing Society Forum - Is There a Formula for Stimulating Emotional Responses to Brands?

Article excerpt

Food group Nestle is following the Japanese philosophy of kansei, in which products are designed to elicit certain emotional responses in consumers. Is such a technique viable in marketing?


All communication stimulates an emotional response - it's impossible for us to react to anything entirely logically. Moreover, emotions don't have to be positive to be effective: shame, irritation and anger can lead to behavioural change.

An ineffective emotional response is a weak one that fails to stay with us, that we neither share nor act upon. This is where formulas can get in the way. For years marketing theory has taught us that while engagement is important, it's secondary (like a sugar-coating) to the message. Assuming that people are waiting to digest and decode what brands want to persuade them of has led to thousands of 'likeable' ads in the research room having little impact in a media-cluttered world.

With Cadbury Dairy Milk, emotional response was the foundation of a campaign which has been taken on by popular culture, outperformed its category in terms of ROI and driven share growth.


The only successful formula in design is to avoid the formulaic.

Principles, on the other hand, are useful: they provide context and criteria against which to judge work.

A philosophy that places the emotional engagement of the audience at the heart of the design will generally appeal over functional design, given that we make most of our choices on impulse. Lovers of logic take note, economist and psychologist Daniel Kahneman won a Nobel prize for showing that, when it comes to the moment of choosing, people choose irrationally.

Nestle is to be praised for sponsoring such a touchy-feely approach to its product and packaging design. Internal design teams within big corporations are prone to an exaggerated faith in functional features It is to be doubly praised for choosing (without any apparent hint of irony) Black Magic as the first product to be on the receiving end of this design.


I worry about having a formula for anything relating to branding, particularly when it's about stimulating an emotional response. …

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